The gothic detective story delves into of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals.
From her role as the eponymous protagonist in the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Eyre and her performance as Alice Morgan in Luther, to her captivating depiction of the villainous Mrs Coulter in HBO’s adaptation of His Dark Materials, Ruth Wilson truly is an actor that can take on any character and make it her own. We’ll happily watch anything on the basis that she’s part of the cast, because her TV projects simply never miss the mark.
Whether Wilson is starring in a period drama or a contemporary thriller, her talent for portraying morally ambiguous characters is always on the money. And her latest project looks to be no exception.
Described as “a gothic detective story shot through with dark humour and elements of psychological horror”, the BBC’s upcoming gothic thriller The Woman In The Wall will examine the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals – the inhumane institutions known as The Magdalene Laundries.
As per the BBC’s official plot synopsis, the new TV series will follow Lorna Brady (played by Wilson), a woman from the small, fictional town of Kilkinure who wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house.
There’s no simple explanation for who the dead woman is or whether Lorna herself might be responsible for the apparent murder, because Lorna has a harrowing past.
“Lorna has long suffered from extreme bouts of sleepwalking, understood to have manifested around the time she was ripped from her life at the age of 15 and incarcerated in the Kilkinure Convent,” reads the synopsis.
“The convent was home to one of Ireland’s infamous Magdalene Laundries,” it continues, “a place where women were taken when they fell afoul of the social mores of their times.”
Women and girls were confined to a life of servitude in these notorious institutions for misdemeanours including getting pregnant out of wedlock, as a teenager or as a result of sexual abuse; committing adultery or engaging in prostitution; or failing to conform to societal standards. Tens of thousands of these “fallen women” passed through the laundries from the early 19th century until the middle of the 20th century and today, the Magdalene institutions are a deep source of shame in Ireland.