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Judgement In Stone UK Tour - Review

Home > Wolverhampton > Celebrity | Theatre | Theatre Reviews
by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Event: -
Murder Mystery Starring Blue Pop Star
When it comes to crime thrillers, Ruth Rendell probably comes a close second to Agatha Christie as Britain's favourite female crime writer. So it makes sense that after a decade focusing on Christie classics, distinguished producer Bill Kenwright has now turned his attention to adapting work by Rendell to stage.

A judgement in stone, ruth rendell, uk tour, classic thriller theatre company, bill kenwright, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Well known faces in the cast of A Judgement In Stone


Judgement In Stone is the latest venture by Kenwright's relatively new Classic Thriller Theatre Company, which is a spin-off of the successful Agatha Christie Theatre Company. I caught it at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre but it is touring nationwide and back in the Midlands at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and Coventry's Belgrade Theatre later in the year.

It features a roll call of well known TV and pop faces, many of whom have been regulars with the Agatha Christie Theatre Company like former Soldier Soldier actor Ben Nealon playing DS Challoner. There's also the likes of Antony Costa of boy band Blue fame and actor Andrew Lancel, Coronation Street's villainous businessman Frank Foster.

judgement in stone, antony costa, UK tour, ruth rendell
Blue star Antony Costa (seated) in Judgement in Stone with Andrew Lancel


Adapted to stage by Simon Brett and Antony Lampard, it keeps the essence of Rendell's novels, slowly building up detailed background on all the characters in the plot. The thriller is based around a wealthy family and their awkward housekeeper Eunice in a quiet village full of eccentric characters and grudges.

As with most murder mysteries, the crime is set in a lavish manor house where the play opens with the arrival of DS Vetch (Andrew Lancel) and DS Challoner (Ben Nealon) weeks after gruesome murders have been committed. They are piecing everything together in current time but through constant flashbacks, the audience gets to understand why the crime happened and the revelation of who did it.

judgement in stone, uk tour, murder mystery
Will you guess who-dunnit in Judgement In Stone?


It's a slick production, directed by Roy Marsden, as the current police investigation fits neatly in with the flashbacks. To keep the action moving, past and present characters pass each other on stage between scenes.

Yet, despite being based around a horrific Valentine's Day murder, the plot has a fairly gentle pace. It's heavily character driven, but short on twists and red herrings.

It is well acted though, but then there is plenty of talent on stage. Leading the cast as housekeeper Eunice is Sophie Ward, playing a very different role to those she's been seen in before like Dr Helen Trent in ITV drama Heartbeat.

judgement in stone, uk tour, bill kenwright
A Ruth Rendell mystery from the Classic Thriller Theatre Company


There's even famed movie icon Shirley Anne Field, who starred opposite Sir Laurence Olivier and Steve McQueen in the 1960's, in a small part. She has a natural air about her although her voice is quiet and didn't carry as well as the rest of the cast.

Former pop star turned actor Mark Wynter, responsible for song Venus In Blue Jeans, is debonair as the head of the family and also gets chance to sing a few notes, while younger singer Antony Costa also does a good job in his role as an ex-con gardener.

Kenwright created this new theatre company in 2015 after 10 years of success with The Agatha Christie Theatre Company and its first adaptation was of TV film Rehearsal for Murder, which went down well with audiences when it toured last year. That was written by Richard Levinson and William Link, who penned television murder mysteries for Columbo and Murder She Wrote, and was an innovative tale with an unexpected ending.

Judgement In Stone doesn't quite pack the same punch as Rehearsal For Murder and although this story is interesting, it maybe is not the most thrilling from Ruth Rendell's extensive back catalogue.

That said, it's an enjoyable enough mystery with some fine acting and a chance to exercise the little grey cells.

RATING:

Judgement In Stone - UK Tour
Tickets cost from £16.90 with many available from the ATG Theatre website.


20 - 25 Feb New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
0844 871 3011 or visit the ATG Theatre website.

27 Feb - 4 Mar Eastbourne Devonshire Park 01323 412 000

6 - 11 Mar Hall For Cornwall, Truro 01872 262466

13 - 18 Mar Buxton Opera House 01298 72190

27 Mar - 1 Apr Northampton Theatre Royal 01604 624811

4 - 8 Apr Cardiff New Theatre 029 2087 8889 Book online

10 - 15 Apr The Playhouse, Weston Super Mare 01934 645544 Book online

18 - 22 Apr Bromley Churchill Theatre 020 3285 6000

24 Apr - 29 Apr Leeds Grand Theatre 0844 848 2700

2 - 6 May Malvern Festival Theatre 01684 892 277

8 - 13 May Cheltenham Everyman Theatre 01242 572573

15 - 20 May Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells 01892 530613

22 - 27 May Crawley The Hawth Theatre 01293 553636

30 May - 3 Jun Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury 0844 871 7627

5 - 10 June Southend Palace Theatre 01702 351135

12 - 17 Jun Derby Theatre 01332 59 39 39

19 - 24 Jun Glasgow Theatre Royal 0844 871 7647

26 Jun - 1 Jul New Victoria Theatre 0844 871 7645

3 - 8 Jul Wolverhampton Grand Theatre 01902 429 212

10 - 15 Jul Harrogate Theatre 01423 502116

17 - 22 Jul Stoke Regent Theatre 0844 871 7649

24 - 29 Jul Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 871 7652

31 Jul - 5 Aug Newcastle Theatre Royal 08448 112121

19 - 23 Aug Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 024 7655 3055

25 - 30 Sep Orchard Theatre, Dartford 01322 220000

CAST AND CREATIVES

Eunice Parchman - Sophie Ward
Joan Smith - Deborah Grant
George Coverdale - Mark Wynter
Jacqueline Coverdale - Rosie Thomson
Melinda Coverdale - Jennifer Sims
Giles Mont - Joshua Price
Eva Baalham - Shirley Anne Field
Detective Superintendent Vetch - Andrew Lancel
Detective Sergeant Challoner - Ben Nealon
Rodge Meadows - Antony Costa

Produced by Bill Kenwright
Adapted for the stage by Simon Brett and Antony Lampard
Director Roy Marsden
Designer Julie Godfrey
Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth
Sound Designer Dan Samson
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Why? See a murder mystery on stage by Ruth Rendell
When: Touring until September 2017
Phone: Various - see list
Where: UK tour including New Alexandra Theatre
Cost: From £16.90
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