The Sinners Club

Sinners Club invites you to join live band The Bad Mothers as they record their latest album live in front of an audience. Based on the life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK, the live recording of this concept album promises songs inspired by Ruth’s short life washed down with a cocktail of stories about lives lost to sin.

Tickets

Soho Theatre, London

5th-30th December 2017 (no Sundays)
7:00pm

Soho Theatre Company Ltd
21 Dean Street
London
W1D 3NE

Box Office: 020 7478 0100
www.sohotheatre.com

★★★★
“A glittering dark gem”
Lyn Gardner for The Guardian

★★★★
“Rivers’ songs are shot through with sounds of Americana … proper old pulp fiction.”
Matt Trueman for Whatsonstage

Exciting News!
London transfer of Sinners Club to Soho Theatre this December.

Sinners Club invites you to join one of the UK’s best new bands The Bad Mothers as they record their latest album in front of a live audience. With songs inspired by Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK, the live recording of this concept album promises raw and lust-filled alt-rock songs washed down with a shot of gothic storytelling.

Join The Bad Mothers on a murderous journey into love, jealousy and revenge, as we hear the story of an iconic woman whose voice is silenced and asks; do we know what we’re truly capable of?

After a barnstorming original run in Wales and Latitude Festival, this co-production between acclaimed all-Welsh team The Other Room, Theatr Clwyd and Gagglebabble transfers to Ruth Ellis’ London home, the heart of Soho, in this electrifying show written by Lucy Rivers and directed by Titas Halder.

Reviews

★★★★ “A glittering dark gem … performed by the truly astonishing Lucy Rivers with help from her neatly named band, the Bad Mothers.”
The Guardian

★★★★ “Rivers is riveting too: cracked and fabulous, wry and ferocious. She sings a peach of a bruised love song and blasts out a howl of vengeful emotion.”
Whatsonstage

“I bloody loved it. It’s the only place to start.”
An Organised Mess Blog

★★★ “Rivers sings with the ease that most people use to breathe. The show is worth it for her performance alone.”
The Stage

“Sinners Club is a deceptively subtle, low-key take on an unhappy life, notable for a magnetic central performance.”
British Theatre Guide

“This hazy evening’s entertainment holds together beautifully.”
Arts Scene in Wales

“It’s a brave, bold and importantly truly enjoyable evening.”
Wales Arts Review

★★★ “A clever and interesting production fronted by an incredible musical talent.”
GetTheChance

“Sinners Club is not what you’d expect when you go to the theatre but is all the better for it. As an experience, it is not to be missed.”
Quench

“An all encompassing and exciting piece of gig theatre showcasing The Other Room in yet another new light.”
Theatre and Tea Blog

The Other Room, Cardiff
Lucy Rivers’ show, inspired by the case of Ruth Ellis, hanged in 1955, uses a clever conceit to tell a story of music, murder and motherhood.

A microphone suddenly suggests a gun, and images of peroxide blondes – at times fragile and breathy, at others monstrous – flicker almost subliminally across the room in the latest piece of gig-theatre from Gagglebabble. It’s a glittering dark gem responding to the life and death of Ruth Ellis who was hanged in 1955 for shooting her faithless lover, David Blakely.

There is much to enjoy in this 90-minute piece written and performed by the truly astonishing Lucy Rivers with help from her neatly named band, the Bad Mothers. Ellis was accused of being a bad mother. But don’t go expecting a traditional narrative in an evening that comes wrapped in a conceit: the recording of a live album, inspired by Ellis, performed by a singer-songwriter who is in a troubled relationship with her controlling producer, also called David.

Sinners Club is never overt, always understated, working through music, atmosphere and illusion. It’s about the half-glimpsed and the half-connected – Ellis was friends with Vicki Martin who was involved with Stephen Ward of Profumo affair notoriety. The space feels liminal: part in the present but also soaked in the seedy glamour of the Mayfair club where Ellis worked.

It is like a series of half-solved clues in song form – Rivers’ Singer gradually reveals more of herself and the story through numbers that range from country to plaintive torch songs. Rivers rivets the attention as a woman fighting her fear of not being heard. “I can’t hear my voice,” she says, the panic rising. A microphone swings in the recording booth like an empty noose.

The walls of the Sinners Club are covered in photos. Ruth Ellis looks out of them in black and white, platinum blonde with big, beautiful eyes. She looks a different woman in every picture. In one, she’s in stockings and suspenders, one leg cocked up on a chair, eyeing the camera seductively. In another, she smiles out like Marilyn Monroe. Sometimes she looks like a society belle, at others a sweetheart, and elsewhere a call girl. She was all and none of the above.

Ellis was the last woman to be executed in Great Britain. She went to the gallows on 13 July 1955, convicted of murdering her lover David Blakely. For a while beforehand, though, she was the scourge of the tabloid press: her death sentence splashed across the front pages, ‘RUTH ELLIS TO HANG’; her face staring out below. No wonder; Ellis’ story had all the salaciousness and shock factor to shift papers back then (and now, for that matter). An ex-escort with movie star looks who murders her man? Catnip on Fleet Street.

Sinners Club doesn’t exonerate her exactly, but it does offer reappraisal. Ellis accepted her fate. “An eye for an eye,” she told reporters; one death deserves another. But her crime sprang from the very same principle. For years, Blakely had beaten her, cheated on her and sexually abused one of her daughters. Ellis mightn’t be quite the woman she was paraded as.

Gagglebabble’s intimate cabaret musical – an immersive gig, if you prefer – rattles through Ellis’ life in a rather abstract way. Rather than biographical timeline, Lucy Rivers’ songs explore aspects of her character. We’re privy to a live concept album recording, where Rivers and her band The Bad Mothers are overseen by an overbearing unseen producer, a mic’d up voice and an eye on proceedings, who keeps overriding and belittling his female star.

Instead of clear narrative, meaning mostly comes through tone. Rivers’ songs are shot through with sounds of Americana, turning a tawdry gutter press tale into something more swaggering: proper old pulp fiction. Sinners Club lifts Ellis out of one tradition and into another, transforming the Soho slapper of the red-tops into some kind of glam, freewheeling outlaw – Bonnie minus Clyde, a rebel without a cause. It almost celebrates her as a sexual revolutionary – the woman who took the fight back to the patriarchy – though Rivers never entirely absolves her or lets her off the hook.

As bio-musicals go, it’s not dissimilar to Neon Neon’s Praxis Makes Perfect – smart politics set to pop – and one or two of Rivers songs are real stadium pleasers, all the more potent squeezed into the back room of a pub for Titas Halder’s production. Rivers is riveting too: cracked and fabulous, wry and ferocious. She sings a peach of a bruised love song and blasts out a howl of vengeful emotion. A woman’s place is in the Sinners Club.

“I bloody loved it.”
It’s the only place to start.

For too long I’ve wanted to go to the theatre and leave with that fire in my belly.
It’s not withstanding what’s happened between now and then. Theatre can move, theatre can be enjoyed. There is a rare experience. “I love it”.
Sinners Club is at The Other Room until 24th February (my mum’s birthday and my parents’ wedding anniversary, oh and Steve Blendell’s birthday if you want it to be pinned in your memory).

If between now and 24th February you have an evening where you could be in Cardiff, I would get to Porter’s . I really would.

I spent today listening to Faith No More’s ‘Edge of the World’. Just because.
This is what I love about great theatre. The emotion it evokes.
You creep into the amazing space, once again created in The Other Room. Wondering what seat will serve you best. There is no right answer.

Mark Bailey’s design is simply amazing. The intricacies of the set grow with you within the 90 minutes of the performance time.
The wonder that every inch of the space is a story unfolding, the sound studio, every inch covered,the signage, the photos of Ruth Ellis. The pertinence.

This is the story of Ruth Ellis.
The last woman hanged in the UK.
A woman born in Rhyl. Lived in London.

This is the story of a studio session.
Creating a soundtrack to the life of Ellis.

Introduced to The Bad Mothers. The irony unfolds. A singer and her session musicians.

At first, I was intrigued. Of actor, musician, writer, composer.
There must be a weakness.

But no.

Lucy Rivers- actor, musician, writer, composer- sinks within your every bone.
Musician, words, emotion – sinks into your veins and envelops.
The story of Ruth Ellis unfolds, in Katy Morison’s light design, in Nic Finch’s video and projection and within the costume of Alison Hartnell.

It is delicate yet all-embracing.

The story, of the need for love, the need for choices, the need for love.
The symbolism and extroversion.

There are moments of humour, of discomfort, of awe.
There are moments where the audience become a part of the story.

Where you are eye-balled as to your conviction.

And there are moments where you are moved to the conviction of your soul.
There are moments where I cursed myself for being so accepting when the school phoned: “You opted for your child to learn violin. It’s out of fashion. Here are some other instruments for might want to consider….” as I breathed the beauty of Lucy Rivers’. And then took comfort in her talent on the piano.

I loved the chemistry as she played alongside Dan Messore, Aidan Thorne and Tom Cottle.

The ability of Titas Halder as Director can only be applauded. Your role in the audience is as spectator, yet involved. The seeming relaxation, yet exposure to the tension created not only in Ruth Ellis’ story, but only in the tension between studio session and producer.

There are times when the character of the singer and the story of Ruth are intangible. Where emotion starts and ends.

But with this, this music takes you, from country, to blues, to rock, and everywhere in between.

I don’t know how to recommend this.
Absorbed in the story,
Carried by the music.
It is worth the experience.
The music alone is talent.
The creation of the story, the history, the emotion- takes it beyond.

Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be executed in Britain. Sinners Club by Lucy Rivers is immersive gig theatre where the audience are invited into a live recording of a concept album about Ellis by rock band The Bad Mothers.

Directed by Titas Halder, and co-produced with Gagglebabble and Theatr Clwyd, the extent to which the show’s combination of songs and episodic narrative actually tells the convicted woman’s story is relatively limited.

The rich and soulful vocals of Rivers, however, in the central role, are one of the production’s main strengths. In terms of lyrics and plotting, the show is at its best when highlighting the hypocrisy of, say, the upper-class men that frequent Ellis’ nightclub.

There are moments of incoherence. A case in point is when Rivers, kitted out in a fantastically flamboyant feathered costume, resembling Carmen Miranda dressed as a magpie, recites a long figurative poem about women and birds. It’s a great costume undoubtedly, but the text gets a little lost.

Mark Bailey’s design transforms the Other Room’s performance space into a 1950s dive bar crossed with a recording studio. Florescent lettering spells out “an eye for an eye” and an image of a pistol provides a clever nod to Ellis’ fate, while the woman in question stares out at the audience from several picture frames.

Rivers sings with the ease that most people use to breathe. The show is worth it for her performance alone. But if you’re looking for insights into women and criminal justice then you’d be better off in the library.

The tragic tale of Rhyl-born Ruth Ellis has fascinated the public ever since it came to light. The last woman to be judicially executed in Britain, in 1955, for the murder of her lover, her case inspired much media comment at the time, and was amongst those which helped garner public support for the abolition of the death penalty.

The plot of the 1956 movie Yield To The Night, starring fellow blonde icon Diana Dors, was somewhat similar to Ellis’s story (apparently coincidentally); the biographical 1985 film Dance With A Stranger introduced the world to Miranda Richardson; and more recently, Amanda Whittington’s more avowedly feminist take on the tale, The Thrill Of Love has played nationwide, and on BBC Radio.

Sinners Club (no apostrophes) is the first production in the spring season at The Other Room; a season entitled Outliers. A product of the fertile mind of Lucy Rivers, one of Wales’s cleverest hyphenates—actress-dramatist-singer-songwriter-musician—this is an innovative spin on the tale, using her company Gagglebabble’s preferred genre of gig-theatre (cf The Bloody Ballad, The Forsythe Sisters, Wonderman).

Thus, as we enter the smoky performance space, we find ourselves, courtesy of Mark Bailey’s set design, in a relatively cosy recording-studio, where three musicians—Aidan Thorne (bass guitar), Tom Cottle (drums) and Dan Messore (guitar and effects)—are bantering and tuning up. Presently, the exotically-clad singer—Rivers—arrives, greets them, and addresses the audience, thanking us for taking part in this experiment.

The conceit is that this is a live recording of a concept album, inspired by the story of Ruth Ellis. The band is the wittily-named Bad Mothers, and it quickly becomes clear that the lead singer identifies strongly—perhaps a little too strongly—with Ruth. The fifth character, who we hear but don’t see, is the session’s producer David. He shares a name with Ellis’s victim, and seems similarly dismissive of the singer’s emotions and ambitions.

While Sinners Club uses Ellis’s story as its spine, it is far from being a conventional musical. Rivers’s powerful songs, ranging in style from torch balladry to plaintive country to bluesy rock, tend to be meditative—a recurring theme being hopeless love—rather than narrative. The metaphor (both lyrically and visually) of the heroine as a beautiful bird who flies too far from her nest is a seductive one.

Director Titas Halder oversees an informal atmosphere, at least amongst the supporting musicians, such that the singer’s intensity is all the more striking. Katy Morison’s lighting design unsettles; Sam Jones’s soundtrack incorporates interview segments evoking sexual abuse; Nic Finch’s video projections show us contemporaneous film clips of other ill-fated platinum blondes. One prominent screen bears the words “An Eye For An Eye”, prefiguring Ellis’s fate.

An over-familiarity with the original story is perhaps a disadvantage, since it leads one to anticipate violent and melodramatic events which Rivers’s script suggests, but which are not explicitly shown. Perhaps the production steers clear of luridness out of respect for Ellis’s real-life trauma, but it still feels as though opportunities for emotionally resonant theatrical spectacle have been missed.

Sinners Club is a deceptively subtle, low-key take on an unhappy life, notable for a magnetic central performance.

Co-founder of Gagglebabble Theatre Company Lucy Rivers has created a heady evening of music, drama, and manic entertainment in her story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Ellis’ story is one of utter heartache at every turn, which in Rivers’ rendition at least is endured with feistiness and glamour.

Set in a 1950s “dive” bar come recording studio, the set has influences of an American speakeasy (or at least the Hollywood representation of one) – the intimacy, the bluesy aesthetic, and booze all attributing factors.  Mark Bailey has done an excellent job here in thinking about how the narrative moves from the dramatic to the comedic to the downright tragic. The design provides various platforms and levels in the small space of the Other Room, in order for Rivers to set up tropes she can come back again and again– creating narrative hooks in the wonderful mayhem of the performance. Examples of this include the recording booth for private moments between Ruth and David, to the band equipment box that Rivers stands upon for the more dramatic statements of the piece. This is complimented by Katy Morison’s clever lighting design, which has to deal with the speedy fluidity of the piece.

The narrative is very much dependant on and crafted out of the music played by Rivers’ sensational band The Bad Mothers (Tom Cottle, Dan Messore, Aidan Thorne). The music goes from soul to country, which supports Rivers’ wonderfully soulful voice.  It would be apt enough to call the show a ‘music play’ if you need to label it but I often worry that labelling can turn some people off things they should really be seeing.  Think of Hedwig and the Angry Inch meets Greg Wohead; Sinners Club has the rawness and pain of Hedwig and the brilliant story telling quality of Wohead’s work.

What we get of Ruth Ellis’ story is mainly in the songs, which is punctuated by dialogue with the invisible David Blakely and interactions with the audience. These moments of interaction provide much of the comedy of the night but it is never used in a tacky or abrupt way that you often get with less thought through interactions.  This includes interactions with and between the band members, all of who are brilliant in their moment to moment delivery.

Under the direction of Titas Halder this hazy evening’s entertainment holds together beautifully, which in itself is a fine achievement because of the sheer amount of things going on. The result is that we feel that we are spending the evening with Ruth herself in her mixed up world.

Apart from writing and composing this piece, Lucy Rivers puts in a virtuoso performance. The moment she arrives in the room she exudes attitude and confidence. Her embodiment of Ruth evolves and aptly straddles brokenness and triumph. Rivers is stunning in this.

Apart from its storytelling qualities this show is pure entertainment and is as good as a gig as it is theatre.

Co-production by The Other Room/Theatre Clwyd/Gagglebabble.

If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to be inside a concept album Sinners Club is probably the closest you can get. Gagglebabble return after the success with Wonderman, this time to The Other Room in a co-production with Theatr Clwyd. With more similarity to 2013’s The Bloody Ballad, again love and murder and placing a woman at centre stage in both performance and narrative are all present. In Sinners Club the band, The Bad Mothers, are weaving the tale of Ruth Ellis, last woman to be hanged, while also working out some issues of their own. They invite the audience into their live studio recording of their new album to tell Ruth’s story – plus, as star and song-writer Lucy Rivers teases at the start, ‘a little something extra just for you’.

The audience certainly do get something extra, being more a part of the show than perhaps many bargained for. The term ‘immersive’ is thrown at every other theatrical production it seems, but Sinners Club truly does create a world that the audience is an integral part of, without feeling forced or artificial. Audience participation is also something that seems to be omnipresent – and something that can be a painful experience for all involved. In Sinners Club, however, the audience feel from the start that they are at The Sinners Club, watching The Bad Mothers record their album, so when Rivers proffers a leg for you to pull a boot off, or gives you an instrument to hold it feels natural.

In terms of performance Sinners Club is faultless. From the moment you enter the smoky, low lit recording studio that The Other Room has transformed into, from the first note that Lucy Rivers belts out to the last. Everything about the experience director Titas Halder has created truly brings the audience into the world. Halder has helped the band create a performance that is dynamic, with energy that pulls in and whips along the audience with the increasingly frantic energy of the band.

The musical element of the show is of the high standard those familiar with the work of Gagglebabble have now come to expect. Writer/composer Lucy Rivers leads Dan Messore (Guitar) Aidan Thorne (Bass) and Tom Cottle (Drums) across 90 minutes of music that would give long established bands a run for their money. As a gig experience it outstripped many a night at Clwb Ifor Bach. Rivers performance is both mesmerising and intriguing. On one hand, she delivers the musical elements of the performance with skill, while simultaneously delivering the emotional undercurrent and performance of the theatre within the gig.

The question of what is the emotional undercurrent, (or more accurately what is beneath the music), is a difficult question to answer, and one element in which Sinners Club falls short. Drawing on the story of Ruth Ellis, whose images look down from the walls of the studio, as if watching the performance of her life unfold, her story feels unresolved. In one respect the blurring of lines between Ruth’s story, the band’s story and perhaps some wider reflections on life, can remain obtuse. However, early in the performance Rivers sets out clearly Ellis’ story as integral to what the band (and we assume the show as a whole) is setting out to do. This element becomes lost fairly quickly, and references to Ellis’ story become more elliptical. And although Rivers wrote the music which accompanies, and theoretically tells the story, there is little for the audience to grasp onto to tie the elements together. While it’s not necessary to spell out the story, the audience needs a little more to go on at times.

This is in part linked to the nature of the performance; Gagglebabble are creating a new kind of theatrical experience with their ‘Gig Theatre’. It’s a brave, innovative and a fascinating idea and experience. However, it is an idea that feels like it’s still developing. In form, existing in a space between a play and a musical theatre/plays with music. It’s a new format that needs perhaps to continue to borrow more from its forerunners – musical theatre is not just big sets and Andrew Lloyd Webber after all, and gig theatre feels like it should sit with our contemporary indie musicals. But to do that the gig element needs to serve story in the way musical theatre music – when done right – serves the story. In the same way plays can have moments of incohesiveness  to serve emotion, as long as audiences are given enough to emotionally connect, the gig in ‘Gig Theatre’ needs to let an audience tie things together, to take enough away to feel really satisfied. These are critiques that can be made only because the format is already so strong; Sinners Club feels like a piece that really flies – hitting the kind of immersive buttons that make it feel like the best of something Punchdrunk would create. Bringing in music that would be at home in any gig – better in fact than many bands you’d see at an average gig, and tying this together in a theatrical experience. It’s a brave, bold and importantly truly enjoyable evening.

Fresh from the magic and wonder of ‘Wonderman’ at the Tramshed in 2016, ‘Rock and Roll Theatre’ production company Gagglebabble are back: this time at The Other Room, a pub theatre making a mark in Cardiff as an edgy hub of experimental, cutting edge theatre.

Partnering with Theatr Clwyd, a company keen to push the boundaries with their productions, this ‘gin-soaked blood and guts’ production kicks off The Other Room’s ‘Outliers’ season.

Exploring the dark underbelly of human nature, the production aims to tell the story of Ruth Ellis the last woman in the UK (originally from Rhyl) to be hanged.

Lead actor, singer, musician and composer (phew!) Lucy Rivers is the first writer in residence for Theatr Clwyd and she, along with band ‘The Bad Mothers’  have created an interactive stop-start ‘live recording session’ experience.

From the start the scene is set, the audience are ushered into the tiny smoky space, resembling a living room-come-recording studio.  We witness the preparation for the session, the banter between the band and the studio manager’s voice directing the session.

The space is deliberately compact; audience members will feel at times they are eyeball to eyeball with the singer.  It feels intensely personal and almost uncomfortably  intrusive and this potency and crossing of the boundaries is actively encouraged and played with throughout the piece.

Audience members help deliver lines, help Rivers with costume changes and even help her take off her boots.  Later, another audience member is given a musical instrument to play and the band pass around a bowl of turkish delight after Rivers has a bit of a wobble and the ‘recording session’ takes a break.

A very loose chronology unfolds of the life of Ruth Ellis. But where her story and the story of other women untangle themselves didn’t really become clear to me. At times I wasn’t sure whose story was whose and details of the different stories clashed or contradicted themselves. Was this Ruth’s story or someone else’s?  I never claimed to be the quickest off the mark and my brain may have been fried by 9 hours of office time beforehand but…I struggled a bit.

There was one passing line in reference to Ruth Ellis being from Rhyl, but the production focuses on human relationships in the main.  I would have enjoyed a bit more detail / exploration of Ruth’s identity as a Welsh woman and her ‘trial by press’, though there are extracts and snippets of pictures/clips here and there in the audio visuals and soundtrack.  Her experience could have been anywhere but it could have been interesting to pick up on these elements, too.

Between the compelling and beautifully crafted musical score, Katy Morison’s lighting, the costume changes, the sound effects, asides and audience jokes, the mini in-between scenes, the projections and the video, it might be difficult for some audience members to follow in places.

The play does very successfully embody the spirit of a true recording session – at times you feel as though you are in an actual drama or at a jazz club, but I can’t hand on heart say I felt like I truly appreciated or understood the true character or true story of Ruth Ellis.

I think what the production does manage to do well is to use Ruth Ellis as a posterchild/an example of the wronged woman, the rebel, the slut, the non-conformer, the loose woman.  She embodies the fear, distrust and objectification of women.  Women like Ruth Ellis are interesting not only because of the crimes they have committed but because they have deviated so very far from the gender-specific norms and usual trajectory of the ‘wife and mother’ that is part of the status quo even now.

We all have wickedness and weaknesses within us, this was a theme throughout Sinners Club.  These themes are wonderfully weaved into the songs, supported and lifted by The Bad Mothers, who help add richness and depth to the experiences in the play with their moody riffs and melodies.

How well Sinners Club translates the ‘voice’ or experience of Ruth Ellis, I can’t truly say, but one thing that was the absolute driving force of this production was the sheer un self-conscious magnetism and watchability of Lucy Rivers, who commands the attention of everyone in the room at all times.

This was not quite the play to watch after a long day at work or if you have any sort of aversion to strobe lighting (I had to close my eyes tightly as my eyes couldn’t take it!), BUT this really is a clever and interesting production fronted by an incredible musical talent.

For most people this will not feel like the type of  lazy ‘switch off and smile’ theatre you might have grown comfortable with – this is theatre that challenges you and forces you to question what it is you’re watching, to ask questions of it and yourself.  This is something Gagglebabble are really good at producing and based on what I have seen so far – the ‘gig-theatre’ approach is never dull or routine.  It is basically a theatre version of a bag of Revels.

This was an amazing start to The Other Room’s ‘Outliers’ Spring 2017 season and now that this tiny theatre with a big presence has won ‘Best Theatre of the Year’ at the 2016 Stage Awards and a clutch of other prizes at the Welsh Theatre Awards, I really can’t wait to see what comes next. Expect more great things from these guys…

Not a play but a piece of ‘Gig theatre’, Sinners Club loosely portrays the life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Lucy Rivers of theatre company Gabblebabble and her musical accompaniment The Bad Mothers play at recording an album while the audience sit around the edges of The Other Room theatre. It is an intimate experience and though there are gaps between musical numbers for small scraps of dialogue, the story of Ellis’s life is mostly interwoven in to the brash songs which Rivers carries with gusto throughout the performance. Rivers does not play the role of Ellis as such, though sometimes she seems to interact with a fictional word which the infamous woman might inhabit. For example, the unseen man producing the album is named David, and is presumably David Blakely, Ellis’s lover and murder victim. All this gives a wonderful sense of abstraction which means that when Rivers falls to the floor, silent, and the band concernedly get up, we are not sure whether this is part of the act.

The performance itself is hugely entertaining. Many musical genres are covered by the band, from country to rock-and-roll and not a beat is missed. If you like music of the 50s and 60s then you’ll be in for a hell of a time. But, the tragic story of Ellis’s life is not to be overlooked as the songs tells of how this woman went through terrible circumstances, eventually finding the love of her life and then having him turn his back on her. Also, the production of the performance itself must be applauded. Truly the small space of The Other Room theatre is made the most of. Hanging on the walls are pictures of Ruth Ellis herself, projections of home videos and contemporary newspaper articles concerning the woman flash up while the show goes on; we feel as if we are in some hellish segment of Ellis’s mind.

Sinners Club is not what you’d expect when you go to the theatre but it is all the better for it. As an experience, it is not to be missed.

The Other Room are back for their 2017 season and first up is Gaggle Babble’s latest piece of gig theatre, taking the audience on a journey in to a live recording studio for an emersive and emotive 90 minutes. Written and performed by Lucy Rivers, Sinners Club is a showcase of musical talent whilst telling the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK.

As the band ‘The Bad Mothers’ enter and begin their recording session, Lucy Rivers immediately has the audience under her spell as she switches from song, to dialogue, to one instrument after the other. Her whole performance is completely entrancing as the piece becomes the soundtrack to Ellis’ life, and even when the narrative loses its way at times, you can’t help but be with her the whole time.

The space has once again been completely transformed by a cosy, studio set which keeps surprising throughout via a stunning lighting design.  As photos of Ruth Ellis are illuminated and the message ‘an eye for an eye’ is lit and prominent, the soulful voice and accompanying band fill the room as the audience are involved in the relaxed atmosphere, by helping Rivers change and even playing a key character at one point.

Switching between country to rock, the live music element really brings the story and it’s characters to life as Rivers keeps you on side from her first words to her band mates. An all encompassing and exciting piece of gig theatre showcasing The Other Room in yet another new light.

Gallery

Photography by Kieran Cudlip

Cast & Creatives

The Bad Mothers
Lucy Rivers, Tom Cottle, Dan Messore, Aidan Thorne

Writer
Lucy Rivers

Director
Titas Halder

Designer
Mark Bailey

Design Assistant
Oliver Harman

Lighting Designer
Katy Morison

Sound Designer
Sam Jones

 

Video and Projection Designer
Nic Finch

Production Manager
Jim Davis

Stage Manager
Steffi Pickering

Associate Director
Francesca Goodridge

Assistant Director
Kate Willetts

Assistant Producer for the Outliers Season
George Soave

This production is made possible by the generous support of the Arts Council of Wales.