Follow Me

The Bread & Roses Theatre

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19:30 - 21:00
£8 - £11

Ruth Ellis was the last woman in Britain to be hanged by the most ‘decorated’ executioner of our time, Albert Pierrepoint. Ruth Ellis was my grandmother.

She shot her lover in Hampstead in a fit of rage. She purposely offered no defence and left the court with no other choice but to hang her. The case received a huge public backlash because she was portrayed as the working class innocent blonde, having been terribly miss-treated by the cheating spoilt public schoolboy.

The job was given to Albert Pierrepoint. A landlord by day and an executioner by night. A man who lives by the rules and believes in order. A man who believes in justice and upholding the law. Having been commissioned with the job of hanging Nazi’s in Germany following WW2, he returned to the UK where his loyalty to the state is tested. My grandmother was the last person he hanged.

“Follow Me takes us into the worlds of the hanged and the hangman in the moments leading to Ellis' execution. Explaining her motives yet showing no remorse, she draws us into the mindset of one driven to commit the ultimate crime. Pierrepoint, the ultimate professional, but one who increasingly feels the moral pressure and growing public distaste for capital punishment and now plagued by doubts about the value of his life's work and the craft he has mastered, explains the mechanisms, both physical and psychological, of being a pub landlord by night and a public executioner by day”.

I saw the play at Edinburgh Festival by pure chance in 2007. I was walking back after a matinee performance and saw a sign which read ‘Follow Me’. I thought that this was fantastic marketing and so I followed. To my surprise, I ended up at a pub next to the apartment block I was staying in. I walked in, took my place and watched the last hours of my grandmother’s life. Although this was rather emotional, I left feeling somewhat confused. I had been brought up to understand right from wrong. I couldn’t form a solid opinion. Yes, she was a relation (but I never met her) but she had committed a terrible murder. In its simplest terms, Pierrepoint was the goody and Ruth the baddy. But I haven’t been able to decide whether hanging her was right or wrong? Even Pierrepoint himself towards the end isn’t sure!

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The Bread & Roses Theatre
68 Clapham Manor Street, London, SW4 6DZ

Nearest station:
Clapham North (Tube)


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(5 reviews) Show Hide all

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Great play. Found myself absorbed in it from start to finish. It also made you think beyond the end of the play contemplating the moral issues that the play drew upon. Incredible performances from the actors. Visited The Bread & Roses Theatre on 2016-06-18
by on June 27th, 2016

Fantastic and very haunting performance by both actors. The claustrophobic space heightened the tension evident in the play. Ian Pring was utterly believable as the humane hangman as was Ann Schutte as the doomed Ruth Ellis. Visited The Bread & Roses Theatre on 2016-06-19
by on June 21st, 2016

Fabulous, intense but interesting and enjoyable. The two cast members were believable as the characters and the story of the final hours was gripping, even though you knew the outcome! Visited The Bread & Roses Theatre on 2016-06-19
by on June 21st, 2016

Brilliant performances from both actors, especially Ann. It was not an easy subject to tackle and to convey attitudes and morals from over 60 years ago which are alien to us today, and to some present-day people almost offensive, in a sympathetic manner. Deserves to be in the West End. Visited The Bread & Roses Theatre on 2016-06-17
by on June 20th, 2016

A great play with two very strong actors. A little uncomfortable at times but that's to be expected with the subject matter covered in this play. Highly recommend this play. Visited The Bread & Roses Theatre on 2016-06-16
by on June 19th, 2016

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