Pierrepoint: The Hangman's Story

Unity Theatre
A Cafe Society production
15th - 16th April 2011

Reviewed by Rob Saven

It was like a one-man play even though there were two men on stage. Peter Harrison had written it beautifully. You needed to be on the ball to see it was a condemned man.

The thick Yorkshire accent ( I think) was a boss touch by Martin Oldfield, who made Pierrepoint come alive - it was a privilege and pleasure to be in the Unity the night I saw this play.

I have read Pierrepoint's autobiography and If I could picture him here tonight it would be in the guise of Martin. He is the man that can hang you if he wants to!

Pirrepoint's family was built upon generations of hangmen (or should that be executioners?), and Albert took pride in being one of the best.

One you will all remember is Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Albert was the last person to touch you before he hanged you. He would gently place his hand on their shoulder and say "Come on, now it's all going to be alright". He would try to sooth their fears and calm their nerves with a few well chosen words.

After he cut them down he had to prepare the body for the 'unmarked grave', and he thought it was not right that a woman should be on display for all to see - it was not very dignified (she should have thought of that when she was beating her hubby to death).

As regards Derek Bentley - 'The let hin have it' case - he was in custody when his co-dee shot the policeman but he was hanged. The kid who fired that fatal shot was only fifteen-years-old, therefore to hang him caused untold grief for poor Albert. He had some doubts about this execution.

His wife was left running the pub while Albert got rid of the baddies. She went a bit pear-shaped in the head. "Albert we are not going to be together when we die. You will be down there while I am up there." Sad story all round.

Loved the part in the production when the Nazis were hung following the Nuremburg trials. Albert did the British proud, dropping four at a time. GO ON MY SON, DO IT FOR THE KIDS.

The play was well acted and very well written.

I had a chance to catch up with Peter Harrison in the bar following the end of the play. He was born a proud Yorkshireman but moved to the greated city on Earth (the Pool) when he was five -years-old. Worked as reporter for the Boootle Times then became a crime reporter (his biggest case was the David Salt child killing). The murderer was hanged in Winston Green. Harrison then began working for the BBC on Look North (he considers Stuart Hall as a pal). Following this he wrote the house down!

Peter, it was a pleasure and an experience to share in your dark humour and fantastic personality. Keep up the wicked work, and I am looking forward to seeing you win awards for your writing, and seeing you being truly recognised for your great work.

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Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by robert.saven on 1st May, 2011 at 6:13
Again col you have turned the mad ramblings in2 a piece of writing, so i again raise my hat ,,,,, please let me know when and what my next mission is , bond licenced to thrill,,(arther smith tickets PLEASE) see u soon luv to the gang @ nerve.

Comment left by pete harrison on 1st May, 2011 at 15:12
A hundrd thousand thanks for the far from mad ramblings, Rob. A great pleasure to talk with you at The Unity. An even greater pleasure to listen to your compliments which I promise I could never tire of. Best regards, The Writer