Awkward, apparently unassuming and seemingly timid, Eunice Parchman enters the home of the Coverdale family in the role as their housekeeper. However Eunice has a secret, a secret she’s managed to keep for years, a secret that when discovered, sets off a chain of events that ultimately leads to a Valentine’s Day bloodbath.
Bill Kenwright presents The Classic Theatre Company, A Judgement in Stone, an adaptation of a Ruth Rendell thriller. Directed by Roy Marsden and staring Andrew Lancel, Sophie Ward, Mark Wynter, Deborah Grant, Shirley Anne Field, Anthony Costa and Ben Nealon.
When the curtain rises, Eunice (Sophie Ward) is perched upon the sofa in a grand country house reception room, emanating a mixture of humility, constrained confusion and duty. The doorbell rings and after an initial hesitation, she permits two police detectives entry (Andrew Lancel and Ben Nealon) Determined to solve the murder of the Cloverdale’s and their children, (Mark Wynter, Rosie Thomson, Joshua Price and Jennifer Sims) the pair re-examine the evidence, hunt for further clues and attempt to clarify the timeline of events with a reticent Eunice, Rodger Meadows (Antony Costa) the ex con gardener who’s charmed the family and usurped cleaning lady Eva Baalham (Shirley Anne Field).
The story unfolds via a serious of flashbacks, showing Eunice’s initial interview and employment in the Cloverdale household. Her struggle with the difference in social class, morality, technological advancements in the 1970’s, and her misinterpretation of any good will gesture. The development of a peculiar friendship with Joan Smith (Deborah Grant) a former prostitute, turned evangelical postmistress, who reads the villagers mail and passes moral judgments from atop her stiletto heels.
Sophie Wards portrayal of the socially awkward servant was at times, an acutely uncomfortable watch. In contrast the joyous and frivolous Coverdale’s ensured the audience remained engaged.
The cast all gave strong performances and despite the limitations of a single set, the story remained adequately paced. The only real setback being, that as a stage adaptation, relationships between various characters, particularly Eunice and Joan, were not sufficiently explained. The focus of the story being the psychological reasons for the crime, rather than simply who committed it.
Considered to be one of Ruth Rendell’s finest works, A Judgement in Stone is at Buxton Opera House from Monday the 13th to Saturday the 18th of March
- Lady Sky