Drama/ 6 Characters, 4 Men, 2 Women/ Full Length, Two Acts
Synopsis: No unseemly clumsiness has ever marred the smooth efficiency of public executioner Albert Pierrepoint’s technique. He prides himself on speed and calm. Twenty seconds, more or less, to end the life of a man or a woman, without a mark being left on their hanging, hooded bodies. One thing which has never semed to trouble Albert is the guilt or innocence of those whose lives he has taken.
And then one night, a young woman walks through the door of the strangely-named Help The Poor Struggler public house he runs in the Oldham area of Lancashire, and asks to speak to Albert. As it becomes clear that she has a personal interest in one of Albert’s many executions, both Albert, and his devoted wife, Anne, finally confront the personal pain and grief which have lain behind so many of those judicial deaths.
The play makes use of information and incidents involving capital punishment revealed by Pierrepoint himself in his memoirs, including the occasion he was required to hang a customer of his own pub and the day a condemned man burst through the glass window of the Visitors’ Room during a final visit from his wife and daughter.
“Stunning — with a real twist in the tail. Beautifully written and beautifully acted.” — Allan Beswick, BBC Radio Manchester.
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About the Playwright: Peter Harrison is a former newspaper crime reporter and BBC radio and television journalist. Since taking early retirement from the BBC, he has had plays, stories and talks broadcast on BBC radio.
A lifelong opponent of capital punishment, Peter has written several plays concentrating on the life of probably the world’s most famous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint. The first, Odd Job Man, was staged by Altrincham Garrick Playhouse in 2004 who then took the production to the Buxton Fringe drama festival where it won awards for Best New Writing and Best Drama Production. It was later staged by professional actors from the Oldham Coliseum Theatre in 2008.
A one-man version, Pierrepoint: The Hangman’s Tale, was staged at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool; The Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester; and The Dukes, Lancaster. The Circus On Lime Street, dealing with the tragic miscarriage of justice which saw a Liverpool petty criminal, George Kelly, convicted and hanged by Pierrepoint for the so-called Cameo Cinema Murders, was presented by 100th Meridian Theatre Co., Liverpool, in 2012 and repeated in 2013.
As well, his play Drums Along The Mersey, an account of the notorious incident in which The Beatles disposed of their drummer, Pete Best, was staged in 2016 at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool, Pete Best’s home town, before an audience including members of the Best family.
Peter’s radio plays include The City that Went To Sea (BBC Radio Manchester), marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal; I’ll Be Seeing You (BBC Radio Manchester), commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of WW2; A Box Of Old Shoes (BBC Radio Merseyside), marking the 50th anniversary of the end of WW2; and Dieppe, One-Way (BBC Radio Merseyside), commemorating the end of The Battle of The Atlantic.
Odd Job Man was first performed by the Altrincham Garrick Theatre, Altrincham, U.K. in 2004.