THERE can be no finer theatre to mount a thriller play in than Edinburgh King’s. Sitting in the gilded grandeur, you can sense the ghosts of audiences past, writes our critic Kerry Black.
This week, packed audiences sat enthralled by The Classic Thriller Theatre Company’s production of Ruth Rendell’s famous 1977 novel of class, betrayal, secrets and lies, “A Judgement In Stone”.
Building on the phenomenal success of their Agatha Christie Productions, Bill Kendrick’s company has now turned to the novels of another great British crime writer, the late Ruth Rendell.
From the moment the curtain opens on the opulent set of a grand British home (beautifully designed by Julie Godfrey), the audience know they are in for a night of quality entertainment. The brilliant cast certainly surprised me.
I expected the diaphanous Sophie Ward to be playing the lady of the manor, not the frumpy, brow beaten Eunice Parchman, their housekeeper. While Shirley Anne Field, the owner of the world’s most amazing cheekbones, plodded on in a ghastly peeny as Eva Baalham, their daily cleaner, who could easily be Dot Cotton’s long lost sister!
The show opens with two detectives (Andrew Lancel and Ben Nealon), sitting wondering who could possibly have murdered the entire wealthy Coverdale family. The cast then start to appear, telling the story in flashback in a cleverly fluid manner, melding the past and the present together. Veteran actor Mark Wynter plays the apparently genial patriarch of the family who will do anything to ensure his family’s happiness, with Jennifer Sims as his spoilt daughter Melinda, while Rosie Thomson and Joshua Price play his jovial second wife Jacqueline and her meditating son Giles.
Antony Costa (of boy band Blue), plays recently paroled, local bad boy Rodger Meadows who was Melinda’s childhood friend and is now employed as their casual handyman. I previously saw him in Blood Brothers and can assure you he will amaze you with his power and aggression. Rounding off the cast is the wonderful Deborah Grant as an overblown, leopard print wearing, blowsy blonde, who has moved up to the country as the new postmistress and has found God. Like Eunice, she is essential to the community, yet remains ostracised by the locals.
This is an evening of true suspense, with quality direction by Roy Marsden. Like Hitchcock, the audience are eventually shown who committed the brutal murders. Will the detectives solve it? Contact 0131 529 6000 to find out. The show runs till Saturday February 18 in the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh at 7.30pm nightly, plus a 2.30pm matinee on Wednesday and Saturday.