New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 27 June 2017
Guest reviewer: Melanie Mitchell
A Judgement in Stone is a classic thriller adapted from the novel by celebrated crime write, Ruth Rendell. The play is set in the 1970s and focuses on the barriers and social structures of the English class system. The social obsessions and tensions this system brings are bought starkly to life.
The play highlights the differences and positions between the middle/upper classes and the much less educated lower working class when the meek, mild mannered Eunice Parchman (played by Sophie Ward) becomes housekeeper for the Coverdales at their country house. Sophie is excellent as Miss Parchman, it took me a while to know is was her as she is so unrecognisable. She portrayed the character perfectly, suitably subservient, fragile, insecure, down trodden and ever so slightly simple treating her employers like royalty but with a hidden depth and secrecy to the character.
Mark Wynter and Rosie Thompson play the Coverdales extremely well; complete snobs, pretentious, exuberant social climbers who see themselves in the upper echelons of society but with his position as a factory owner could easily be described as upper working class- god forbid!
Jennifer Sims as Melinda Coverdale is the perfect spoilt brat, a daddy’s girl without a worry in the world. Her step-brother, Giles, played by Joshua Price is a typical foppish, alternative rich boy. The detectives played by Andrew Lancel and Ben Nealon both give believable performances. I was pleasantly surprised by Anthony Costa (formally a member of boyband, Blue) who plays Rodger Meadows and I have to say: the boy can act!
Deborah Grant as the maniacal Joan Smith is perfect for this part, very watchable with the right amount of of madness and humour. Shirley Anne Field plays the Coverdales cleaning lady Eva Baalham, who’s timing and overall performance are excellent however, I felt that the part was extremely small and somewhat insignificant for such a great actress.
The whole play centres around one set, the Coverdales dining/sitting room with various doors leading off of it. However, due to the clever production, staging and lighting, the backdrop does not become boring.
All in all, A Judgement in Stone provides a great evening full of atmospheric suspension and tension.