The lights come on and in a nightgown Ruth Ellis (Lotte Albrecht) enters the stage to the bittersweet Blues of Billie Holiday, which immediately draws the audience into the stylish, but flawed version of the 1950s that forms the backdrop for the story preceding Ruth’s death. On 13 July 1955, at the age of 28 she is hanged, the last woman in Britain to suffer this fate. Her crime: she shot her lover in cold blood. What drove this young, beautiful woman over the edge? Why did she not even attempt to defend herself? These are some of the questions “The Thrill of Love” by Amanda Whittington aims to explore.
An emotional rollercoaster
The story is told in flashbacks through the perspective of Inspector Jack Gale (Jack Sigel). During his investigation he reconstructs a selection of events that give us an insight into the seedy world of gentlemen’s clubs and the women working the nights. Always present on bar room stage, he is a constant reminder that even the happiest moments in the lives of the women there are nothing but stepping stones on the path to the grim future we already know. However, these scenes of joy are one of the greatest feats of the play: it’s all too easy to get lost in the hopelessness and sadness that is usually associated with the story of Ruth Ellis. The playful banter between the women is a welcome break and allows the actresses to display their perfect timing and quick delivery. Thanks to these moments the characters become more than just parts of a tragic story. We become invested in their hopes and dreams, although we should know full well that they are unlikely at best. When this realization finally kicks in during the second half of the play, it hits that much harder.
There are no extras in “The Thrill of Love”. Every character has his or her moments. The club’s manager Sylvia Shaw (Lucie Marchand) appears to be all business, but she cares deeply about all the women who work for her. The charwoman Doris (Anna Hilbel) often puts her needs behind those of others, even if it puts her own happiness at risk. The young Vicky Martin (Sara Steffes) hopes to meet powerful men and become a star on the big screen. Even Inspector Gale, cold as he may seem, turns out to be motivated by more than the mere desire to solve a case.
An unforgettable evening
“The Thrill of Love” is a powerful experience. The crew surrounding Rudolf Beck has managed to create a captivating atmosphere that lingers long after the curtain closes. We may know the outcome from the very beginning, but we don’t know the story behind it. In finding out, it’s difficult not to feel somewhat like a voyeur. Personal tragedies happen in silence. It’s when they emerge that we start to care.
Thursday 6th December
Friday 7th December
Tuesday 11th December
Thursday 13th December
8 p.m., Hörsaal II
Author & Poster: Andreas Böhm
Anglistentheater is back!
Amanda Whittington’s “The Thrill of Love” is based on the true story of Ruth Ellis, who was the last woman to be hanged in Britain. You want to find out why she shot her lover seemingly in cold blood? You want to know why she didn’t try to defend herself? Well, you’re in for an emotional story of strong women and broken dreams.
Get your tickets now and be part of the German première of “The Thrill of Love”.
For more info go to the AnglistenTheater’s website.
The guitar music that reaches out at me as I enter Hörsaal II to watch this term’s production of the Anglistentheater is soothing, somewhat relaxing. It fits the scene I see on stage where two young children (Lea Bess, Tara Vogel; Milla Hünig, Midori Tran) and a nurse (Julia Teuchner) are playing quietly with a toy ship. However, the lapping of rain and low rumbling of thunder in the background announce imminent disaster.
What’s the play about?
Ben Power’s version of Euripides’ Greek tragedy Medea shows how boundless love can turn into boundless fury. I don’t want to give away too much, as you should really experience the story yourselves, but here’s a rough outline of the story: Jason (Maximilian Leoson) abandons his two sons and his wife Medea (Lotte Albrecht) to marry Krёusa (Sara Steffes), the daughter of the Corinthian King Kreon (Jack Sigel). Heartbroken and riven by grief, Medea vows revenge on her husband. She wants him to experience the same endless pain she feels after his betrayal. Or as she puts it: she chooses to take back her life. The disaster takes its course.
An absolute must-see
It was the perfect interaction of all relevant factors that made me like this theatre play so much. The casting is spot on, from the bigger roles to the smaller ones, such as the Corinthian women (Kristina Becker, Jasmin Gall, Lucie Marchand), Jason’s attendant (Kathrin Bayer) or the King of Athens, Aegeus (Baris Kirat). I especially loved Lotte’s performance of Medea, perfectly portraying her as a grieving yet strong and independent woman with a sprinkle of madness in her eyes. Not only were the performances amazing; the sound and costumes need to be praised, too. Medea and Jason are both wearing harem pants and look unkempt, which makes it clear that they are two of a kind. They stand out against the Corinthians, all dressed neatly, all the women wearing more modest make-up than Medea. Ominous music and thunderous rumbling are used to prepare the audience for upcoming disasters.
Go and watch it!
I left the play thinking about what I’d just experienced for quite a while. Can a broken heart really make you perform such evil actions? Do love and madness always go together? Is Medea strong or a psychopath? Or is she maybe both? The fact that it’s almost impossible not to think about these things afterwards shows just what a good job the Anglistentheater team has done. With this performance of Medea, they have once again surpassed themselves and exceeded my expectations, as they do every semester. So I highly recommend you watch one of their shows, which take place on Thursday the 07th, Friday 8th, Tuesday 12th and Thursday 14th at 7:45 pm in Hörsaal II here at Uni. Tickets can be ordered online with the order forms or bought at the Taschenbuchladen Krüger located near the Königsplatz.
Text: Jessica Jones
Flyer: Andreas Böhm
Photos: K. Satzinger-Viel