Image © Geraint Lewis
A JUDGEMENT IN STONE
Opera House, Manchester
Until Saturday 18th November, 2017
Following the success of last year’s Rehearsal for Murder, this second outing from the Classic Thriller Theatre Company (developed from the long-running Agatha Christie Theatre Company) continues along the whodunnit/murder mystery path, this time digging into the vast bibliography of thriller royalty, Ruth Rendell, for its inspiration, though despite some strong performances (Sophie Ward , Chris Ellison and Ben Nealon in particular) and a smooth staging, the play itself sadly proves a rather bland affair, severely lacking in suspense and tension for much of the duration.
Notably adapted for the screen as La Cérémonie, directed by the great Claude Chabrol, the play centres around the class struggles between the newly hired housekeeper, Eunice Parchman, and the very wealthy Coverdale family, who have been brutally murdered at their rural mansion, Lowfield Hall.
Simon Brett and Anthony Lampard’s sluggish new adaptation changes the structure of Rendell’s celebrated psychological thriller novel quite dramatically, here incorporating an interwoven, non-linear timeframe and frequent flashbacks to juxtapose the present police investigation and the past events leading up to the murder.
Director Roy Marsden’s production uses simple lighting and very fluid scene changes to effectively transition between past and present, but in terms of innovation and creative flair there is much to be desired.
Running Time: 2 hours and 15-minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.
Final Performance at the Opera House, Manchester: Saturday 18th November, 2017
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