Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Now playing:
On Air
Listen Live

Truth is Tricky: A Review of The Truth About Winnie Ruth Judd

Long known as a classic Arizona tale, the story of Winnie Ruth Judd is being spotlighted once again, this time as she steps onto the stage.

Directed by Matthew Wiener, this play follows the story of the infamous "Trunk Murders,” which took place in October 1931. The play is set in Phoenix, where Judd lived and where the murders were committed. Given that one of the show’s writers, along with Cathy Dresbach, is Ben Tyler, it’s no surprise that the play is centered around Arizona. Tyler is known for his Arizona-centered plays. 

This play takes its viewers along for the ride as it introduces Judd and her seemingly ordinary life, aside from a fling turned romantic quarrel despite being happily married. From there, rumors spread that Judd murdered her two closest friends over the affection of her love interest, putting their dismembered bodies into shipping trunks, spurring widespread coverage of the story in printed newspapers. Local radio channel KOY decides to jump in on the story, reenacting the events on-air that took place at the criminal trial earlier in the day. This radio show helps to depict the public’s perception of the event, leading towards the conviction of Winnie Ruth Judd. Telling the story this way highlights the abusive nature of the media surrounding the case, one of the major themes of the show. 

In order to evade her sentence of hanging, Judd feigns mental illness and is admitted to a psychiatric institution. After many escapes and returns to the institution, she makes her final escape in 1963, and to this day, the truth of the murders may never be known. 

This dark story is complemented by quite comedic performances by the actors playing the ensemble, capturing many of the personas surrounding Judd and her story. It was slightly difficult, to follow the second act without previous knowledge of the “Trunk Murders,” but the show maintained its entertaining nature. 

For Arizonans, many spots mentioned in the play are still in operation, like Durant’s and KOY radio stations. 

According to Tyler, it’s important to tell this story now because “it deals with the elusive nature of a very precious commodity, the truth. The truth is something we need now more than ever.” 

The show opened at The Phoenix Theatre Company on February 7, and audiences can unlock the secrets of “The Blonde Butcher” and more until March 24, 2024. 

Tickets are available here.

Similar Posts