Amanda Whittington

Plays by Amanda Whittington

Be My Baby

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Amanda Whittington’s debut play Be My Baby sheds light on teenage pregnancy in 60s Britain. Featuring an all-female cast the play has proved incredibly popular with schools and drama groups across the UK and is currently a set text for GCSE English Literature.

Set in a Mother and Baby Home in 1964 in the north of England, the play follows the fortunes of Mary Adams, aged 19, unmarried and seven months pregnant. Forcibly sent there by a mother intent on keeping up appearances, Mary – along with the other girls in the home – has to cope both with the shame and the dawning realisation that she will have to give the baby up for adoption whether she likes it or not. Despite this, and an overbearing matron, the girls’ youthful effervescence keeps breaking through, as they sing along to the girl-group songs of the period.

Commissioned by Soho Theatre, the play started out as a story of a grown woman meeting her adopted child. However, as Whittington began to research she came across the story of Britain’s Mother and Baby Homes. These homes were a well-kept secret that nonetheless blighted the lives of thousands of young women to whom Whittington has given a voice in this play.

Be My Baby was first performed by the Soho Theatre Company at the Pleasance Theatre in London in 1998. Since its initial production, the play has been revived many times including at the Soho Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, Oldham Coliseum, New Vic Theatre and Hull Truck Theatre.

Ladies’ Day

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ladies’ Day is a comedy drama from Amanda Whittington about four unlikely lasses from Hull who decide to take a day trip to the races. Focusing on the friendship between the four distinctly different women, the play has proved hugely popular with amateur groups across the UK.

Work, love and life are just one long, hard slog for the fish-filleting foursome Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda. But their fortunes are set to change when Linda finds tickets to Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot the year it relocated to York. Out go the hairnets, overalls and wellies as they do themselves up to the nines and head off to the races. Glamour puss Shelley is interested in meeting a handsome, and preferably rich, man. Linda, on the other hand, is skint after letting her duplicitous mother back into her life. Pearl spills the beans on her illicit love life to devoted single mother, Jan, who is concerned for her academically ambitious daughter. As the girls guzzle champagne they come across a variety of characters from an arrogant TV pundit to a sensitive jockey. They place the odd bet too and if their luck holds, they could just hit the jackpot.

Ladies’ Day premiered at Hull Truck Theatre in 2005 and has been revived many times since including at the Royal Court in Liverpool and the Oldham Coliseum in Manchester.

Ladies Down Under

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Amanda Whittington’s Ladies Down Under is a sequel to her hit play, Ladies’ Day and follows the fortunes of Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda as they head to Australia.

Having won an absolute fortune at the races last time round in Ladies’ Day, the girls from Hull head off to Australia on the trip of a lifetime. But it’s not all fun Down Under. Jan is terrified that boyfriend, Joe (who left England for a new life at the beginning of Ladies’ Day) may have lost interest in her while he’s been abroad. Linda is struggling with the burden her new fortune has brought her. Shelley has frittered away her share on designer clothes and partying, but soon discovers she has very little to show for it. Meanwhile, Pearl is going through a life-changing event herself. The women each discover something about themselves as their bond deepens and they discover that money can’t buy you love, or happiness.

Ladies Down Under premiered at Hull Truck Theatre in 2007.

The Thrill of Love

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain in 1955 after being convicted of shooting her lover, David Blakely, in cold blood. The Thrill of Love dramatises this infamous true story and takes a closer look at the women behind the headlines.

A divorcee with a young child to care for, Ruth Ellis works in the kind of nightclubs where there’s more than just a drink on offer. The girls work hard, play hard and dream of a movie-star life. Then she meets the wealthy, womanising David, a racing driver with whom she becomes obsessed. She also begins seeing Desmond Cussen, a man driven mad with jealousy by her tempestuous and often violent relationship with David. Whittington’s play focuses on Ruth’s interior life, as well as her friendship with three women all working the club scene: the dependable club owner, Sylvia, aspiring actor and model, Vickie and charwoman, Doris. These friends provide comfort to her as she battles abusive lovers and a rabid press. Meanwhile, Detective Jack Gale follows her story from the beginning, hoping to piece together the motive behind why she murdered David and, more importantly, whom she might be protecting.

The Thrill of Love was first performed at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2013 before transferring at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and the St James Theatre in London.

Picture of Amanda Whittington

© Kurt Egyiawan

Amanda Whittington was born in Nottingham in 1968. After leaving school, she worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of publications and was a columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post.

Her plays include Be My Baby (Soho Theatre, 1998); Player’s Angels (Old Library, Mansfield, 1999); The Wills’s Girls (Tobacco Factory Theatre, 2003, BBC Radio 4); Bollywood Jane (Leicester Haymarket/West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2003); Satin ‘n’ Steel (Nottingham Playhouse/Bolton Octagon, 2005); Ladies’ Day and Ladies Down Under (Hull Truck 2005 and 2007); Last Stop Louisa’s and The Boy on the Hill (New Perspectives); Amateur Girl (Hull Truck, 2009 and Fifth Word/Nottingham Playhouse UK Tour, 2014) and The Thrill of Love (New Vic Theatre and St James’ Theatre, 2013). She has also written three youth theatre plays and a stage adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (New Perspectives, 2006) and Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet (Guildhall School of Music and Drama, 2009). She has also written for television and was joint winner of the BBC2 Dennis Potter Award in 2001.

For more information visit www.amandawhittington.com.