A Judgement In Stone review at Everyman Theatre

Tackling important issues of social class against a thrilling backdrop of murder, mystery and madness, Bill Kenwright's A Judgement In Stone offered gripping entertainment along with an ominous societal warning.

Renowned for its hugely popular Agatha Christie adaptations, Bill Kenwright tackled the work of another revered crime writer with its suspenseful production of Ruth Rendell’s celebrated story A Judgement In Stone.

As a self-confessed murder mystery fan, I couldn’t wait for another evening of intriguing entertainment at Everyman Theatre – and four murders and two suspenseful hours later, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

A story shrouded in death and deceit, Rendell’s masterpiece is as much about society and class as it is about murder – transcending the genre’s boundaries and making for a play which is not only thrilling, but thought provoking.

A story shrouded in death and deceit, Rendell's masterpiece is as much about society and class as it is about murder.

The production boasted a stellar cast, with Sophie Ward excelling in the role of Eunice Parchman, an awkward housekeeper who struggles to fit into the privileged world of the upper class Coverdale family, making friends with colourful character, Joan Smith, played by Deborah Grant.

Addressing the dynamics and divisions of society, A Judgement In Stone pits the contrasting classes against each other – in one corner, the wealthy opera-loving, university attending, jet setting Coverdales; in the other, housekeepers, an ex-con, and mutton-dressed-as-lamb.

From their visual appearances, lexicon and accents, to behaviour and issues worlds apart, Bill Kenwright’s adaptation was an excellent exploration of character and class – a lethal combination which led to a horrific murder on Valentine’s Day.

Keeping the audience enthralled throughout, the play successfully transitioned from past to present, the curtain lifting to reveal a crime scene and detectives Superintendent Welch and Sergeant Challoner, before bringing the murder victims back to life to witness their doomed fate unfold.

With murder at its core, there were light humoured moments as well as the shocking scenes which drew loud gasps from an unsuspecting audience –myself included! While, a surprise operatic number certainly showcased the singing talents of actors Mark Wynter and Jennifer Sims, in the role of a cringe worthy daddy and daughter duo.

The play ticked all the boxes you'd expect from a crime play – including a chilling ending.

No special effects or changing set meant there was nothing to distract from the story and acting, with the play ticking all the boxes you’d expect from a crime play – including a chilling ending which definitely unnerved me, and I suspect everyone else!

Written in the late 1970s, A Judgement In Stone delivers a moral message which remains important in the present day, while encompassing drama, mystery and plenty of shocks.

With the final line revealing a devastating motive for murder, we were left shocked, saddened, but thoroughly entertained.

A Judgement In Stone will be at Everyman Theatre until Saturday 13 May 2017. For more information see A Judgement In Stone, call 01242) 572573, or visit www.everymantheatre.org.uk directly.

By Kathryn Godfrey

© SoGlos
Tuesday 09 May 2017

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