Last night was press night at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, London, for a new production of Machinal, the 1928 play written by American journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell.
It was inspired by the case of Ruth Snyder, executed by electric chair that same year, after she’d been found guilty of killing her husband.
The play tells the story of a young woman called Helen Jones – ‘God what a thing it is to be a woman! What you got to submit to! – to hell – and nobody says anything.’
I was asked to write a feature for the Almeida’s programme on women in the criminal justice system. I focused on three women found guilty of murder: Kitty Byron in 1902, Edith Thompson in 1923 and Ruth Ellis in 1955. All three women feature in Bad Girls.
The Almeida is London Theatre of the Year 2018, and the play was directed by Natalie Abrahami. The image from the play is copyright Johan Persson and taken from the Almeida website.