A new stage production of A Judgement in Stone, adapted from one of Ruth Rendell’s most celebrated works, is bound for Bath performed by The Classic Thriller Theatre Company as part of a UK wide tour. Appearing at the Theatre Royal from Monday 20th to Saturday 25th November, the star cast features Chris Ellison (The Bill, Burnside); Sophie Ward (Land Girls, Heartbeat, Young Sherlock Holmes); Robert Duncan (Drop the Dead Donkey); Deborah Grant (Not Going Out, Bergerac); Shirley Anne Field (The Entertainer, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning); Antony Costa (Blood Brothers, Blue) and Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier).
Eunice struggles to fit in. When she joins a wealthy family as their housekeeper, the very reason for her awkwardness, which is both long hidden and deeply buried, leads inexorably to a terrible tale of murder in cold blood – on Valentine’s Day. Ruth Rendell’s brilliant plot unravels a lifetime of deceit, despair and cover-ups which, when revealed, brings a shocking revelation almost as grizzly as murder itself.
Credited with revitalising the mystery genre and often hailed as the successor to Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell was first published in 1964. Her exceptional crime writing has been recognised with many awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence. She was made a CBE in 1996 and became a Life Peer in 1997. Her 80 novels – which include the Inspector Wexford mysteries, featuring one of the genre’s most famous characters, Chief Inspector Wexford – have been extensively adapted on screen. A Judgement in Stone has been made into a film twice, including as The Housekeeper in 1986 starring Rita Tushingham.
Chris Ellison plays the role of Detective Superintendent Vetch. Best known on television as DCI Frank Burnside in over 280 episodes of the long-running police drama The Bill, Chris went on to reprise his role in the spin off series Burnside, and also played the title role in the series Ellington. A familiar face on our screens for over 40 years, Chris has appeared in many much-loved programmes during his career including The Sweeney, Dempsey and Makepeace, The Professionals, Minder, and played the role of George in the film Buster alongside Phil Collins. More recently, he has appeared in EastEnders, Casualty, New Tricks and Walliams and Friend, and starred on stage as Magwitch in the West End production of Great Expectations.
Sophie Ward plays the role of Eunice Parchman. Since her first television appearance at a young age in Shadows in 1975, Sophie has performed in numerous hit dramas and long-running series over the past 40 years. She played Dr Helen Trent in Heartbeat and Elizabeth Hardy in Young Sherlock Holmes; starred in the acclaimed mini-series, A Dark Adapted Eye, alongside Helena Bonham Carter; and played Isabella alongside Juliette Binoche in the 1992 film version of Wuthering Heights. Sophie also played the roles of Lady Ellen Hoxley in Land Girls and Sophia Byrne in Holby City. Amongst her many stage credits, she has previously performed at the Theatre Royal in Les Liasons Dangereuses in 2000 and Go Back for Murder in 2013.
Playing George Coverdale is Robert Duncan, best known on television for his role as Gus Hedges in all six series of Drop the Dead Donkey. On stage, he has played leading roles in theatres across the country in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Taming of the Shrew, Jane Eyre and Educating Rita. As a member of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, he starred in Verdict and Go Back for Murder, both of which played Bath. He recently performed in Twelve Angry Men in the West End – a production which toured to Bath in 2015 – where Robert now returns for his eleventh production at the Theatre Royal.
Deborah Grant, who appears as Joan Smith, is best known on television for her roles in the BBC’s Not Going Out, Bergerac and Roger, Roger. As well as her many screen appearances, Deborah is a stage veteran; playing her first theatre role at the age of 4. She has since performed in many national touring productions and West End shows, including starring opposite Michael Crawford in the West End debut of Barnum at the London Palladium. She last performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in Absurd Person Singular in 2008.
Eva Baalham is played by movie icon Shirley Anne Field, who has had a long and successful career since her breakthrough role as Tina the Beauty Queen opposite Sir Laurence Oliver in The Entertainer. Her role as Doreen in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning alongside Albert Finney soon followed, before she played Daphne, the female lead in the Hollywood film The War Lover opposite Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner. She last performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in Murder with Love in 1984. Most recently, Shirley Anne starred in the award-winning Beautiful Relics, a short film directed by Adrian Hedgecock.
Antony Costa plays Rodge Meadows. His stage work includes the lead role of Mickey Johnstone in the London production of the musical Blood Brothers, as well as the 10th anniversary tour of Boogie Nights; the 40th anniversary of The Who’s iconic musical Tommy at Blackpool Opera House, and the UK tour of Popstar: The Musical. Antony originally shot to fame in chart topping boy band Blue, who formed in 2000 and achieved numerous number one and top ten singles, three number one albums, and sold 15 million records worldwide.
Ben Nealon plays the role of Detective Sergeant Challoner. His television credits include starring as Captain Jeremy Forsythe in ITV’s award-winning series Soldier Soldier, as well as roles in Casualty, EastEnders and Doctors, and the Bollywood blockbusters The Rising and the Oscar-nominated Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. With The Agatha Christie Theatre Company at the Theatre Royal, he appeared in And Then There Were None in 2015, Black Coffee in 2014, and with The Classic Thriller Company in Rehearsal for Murder in 2016.
The cast is completed by Rosie Thomson as Jacqueline Coverdale, Pamela Dwyer as Melinda Coverdale and Joshua Price as Giles Mont.
Director Roy Marsden played one of television’s most famous detectives Inspector Adam Dalgliesh in P.D. James’s many series for fifteen years. As a director, his numerous credits include the West End productions of Noël Coward’s Volcano and Agatha Christie’s (under the pen name Mary Westmacott) A Daughter’s A Daughter. Recently for Bill Kenwright, he directed the UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black theatrical follow-up, The Small Hand.
A Judgement in Stone appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 20th to Saturday 25th November. To book tickets contact the Box Office on 01225 448844 or book online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk