A Judgement in Stone at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

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Reviewed by Michelle Alexander

It’s all happening at the Coverdale family home on Valentine’s Day…  A murder! 4 people dead…

The investigation is led by Detective Superintendent Vetch (played by Andrew Lancel of The Bill) and Detective Sergeant Challoner (played by Ben Nealon of Soldier Soldier).

The curtain rises and the scene is set in the Coverdale’s home with Eunice Parchman (played by Sophie Ward) sat on the sofa eating her chocolate, the doorbell rings several times before she answers it to the police. From here onwards, Eunice recalls events leading up the fateful night. With the simple dimming of the lights, the play throws you in and out of many scenes, that lead up to the murders but who done it?

The Coverdale’s are an extremely wealthy family; George Coverdale (played by Mark Wynter) and Jacqueline Coverdale (played by Rosie Thomson) are on their second marriage, each have a child, George has a daughter; Melinda (played by Jennifer Sims) who’s a daddy’s girl, lively and bubbly and Rosie has a son; Giles Mont (played by Joshua Price), he’s a bit of an odd-ball, a real book worm and a typical teenager who also fancies his step sister.

Sophie Ward plays the educationally challenged housekeep Eunice Parchman and I must say she plays her extremely well.  Out of all the characters played, I was taken in by hers the most, she put her all into the character she was playing and on many occasions, I felt sorry for Eunice, although she would’ve fitted in quite well with the Addams family… lol

There’s the ad boy gardener, Rodger Meadows (played by Antony Costa) who’s character has a lot of bluff and bluster and has served time previously for petty thefts.

Eva Baalham (played by Shirley Anne Field) is the cranky ageing cleaner who, I’m sorry to say wasn’t great in her role. She was boring, didn’t put any energy or personality into her character at all and found her cringeworthy to watch.

Then there’s Joan Smith (played by Deborah Grant), who runs the local village post office. Another great part played and was totally unrecognisable; I had to refer to the programme to realise who she was, that how good she was. A flamboyant character with a dress code of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ and plays it well. She’s very much over the top and funny at the same time.

The question is… Whodunnit? And why? Red herrings abound and it seems everyone has a motive. Secrets and blackmail, unrequited love and worrying hearsay keep the coppers guessing but when all’s unveiled, it’s a bit of an over the top anti-climax and as DSI Vetch delivers his last observation of the tragedy, I was left thinking… ‘what’s coming next’ only to then realise it had finished.

Rating: 3.5/5

Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 27 March to 1 April 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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