Quite who Reg Christie (Tim Roth) is is something that is hard the ascertain. The man has a checkered history, evident in the strain in his relationship with wife of fifteen years Ethel (Samantha Morton). After he finishes a spell in prison, they move to Rillington Place – the place where many sinister goings on are to take place over the coming years.
When I saw BBC’s preview for Rillington Place, I was aware that there was a man who looked a lot like Tim Roth in the lead role. As it turned out, I was right with my guess at who the actor was, and when this was confirmed I knew straightaway that I would be watching this three-part drama after being very impressed by his work in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It turns out that he impressed me yet again with his work here, so I was glad I took a gamble on this period-set mini-series.
Roth, as you know by what I’ve already said, was tremendous as Reg, and I’d probably say that this was the best performance I’ve seen by him. He had a presence on-screen that made you feel uneasy just watching him walk into a room. When it came to his character’s speech, Roth has said that he went for an Alan Bennett-esque dialect, which I have to say was very effective in making the character complete. There was something very chilling about the way he spoke, and how calm he remained in every situation. He absolutely nailed the character if you ask me, and delivered a masterclass in acting with every minute of this drama.
Samantha Morton was equally as good as Ethel. It was hard to know which side she was on throughout the whole thing, which I think showed very well how torn her character was. What I really liked about Ethel though was the hidden power she possessed. She was the only character in the story who could make Reg lose it, and we saw this a couple of times. Morton did a terrific job of showing the most important aspect of Ethel, which was that she was essentially an abused wife, and although this was apparent from the beginning, it became much clearer as the story played out.
The storyline for Rillington Place was a retelling of the events that played out there in the 40s and 50s. What I had expected of the show was quite different to what I got – I thought I would have seen far more of the murders happen, but as it was, this was not the case. Was I disappointed by this fact? Not really. The performances more than made up for the lack of action that took place on-screen which I think is one of the biggest complements they each could get.
On the whole, Rillington Place is a short drama full of top-drawer performances. The cast provide plenty for you to be entertained with, and the dark subject matter of this show makes it the kind of period drama that I think those of us who prefer not to look back on the olden days through rose-tinted specs can fully appreciate. If you like Ripper Street, as I am also a huge fan of, then Rillington Place will definitely be right up your alley.