"Hidden Stories" National Tour
We are often fed a certain narrative by the media which comes to be the one that everyone accepts, but there is always a great deal we don’t know. These two plays looks at the “hidden stories” of two women who were tried and executed for murder. In the case of Edith Thompson at the time there was a moral panic after the First World War. Edith Thompson was seen as immoral and calculating. A married women who worked, didn’t keep house and took a much young lover. Ruth Ellis was also seen as a sexual predator, a night club hostess who neglected her duties as a mother. The plays asks us to think about ingrained misogyny in the justice system. Both cases are now seen as major miscarriages of justice, but are women still judged more harshly than men?
Now You See Me
by Carly Halse
The “hidden story” of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England. The year was 1955. Ruth Ellis openly admitted to the murder of her lover David Blakely who she shot at the Magdala pub in London. What is little known though is that Blakely was violent and controlling. A few days before the murder he had brutally beaten Ruth and she suffered a miscarriage. At a time when she needed support her close male friend Desmond Cussen gave her a gun and showed her how to use it. He was never called to account. Her case led to changes in the law recognising the defence of diminished responsibility.
by Rosemary Hill
Edith Thompson was executed in 1923 alongside her young lover Frederick Bywaters. Edith Thompson apparently knew nothing about the plan to murder her husband, Percy. Bywaters always maintained he acted alone. But Thompson was older than him and seen as an immoral seducer. She was also a dreamer who wrote letters to her lover describing their perfect life together after her husband was gone. Was she executed for adultery rather than murder, a victim of the social climate of the time? If she had lived through the swinging sixties would society have judged her differently?