There is a risk with adapting any well loved novel that things that might work on the printed page don’t necessarily translate well when performed.
A Judgement in Stone sees the show start with the murder of a family of four and the police interviewing the traumatised housekeeper about who might have done it.
But while this is a solid adaptation, in my opinion, it very rarely rises above being solid.
Sophie Ward as the housekeeper Eunice is probably the best of an ensemble cast. Playing a part that could very easily be either overplayed or underplayed, Ward pitches it just about right.
However the rest of the cast vary quite a lot. Andrew Lancel’s police detective is more or less identical to his character in The Bill to a frankly rather peculiar appearance from Shirley Anne Field as a cleaner.
And then there’s the plot, normally when you are carried along on a story, you end up perhaps not noticing the plot holes and only when you see on repeated viewings do you spot them. There’s a few major ones in this that you couldn’t help but notice.
While I won’t give away the ending, it is fairly obvious from fairly on who the killer is and also why they did it.
Normally in a crime drama, other motivations take centre stage in order to distract the audience from the true killer but the other characters are given barely a strong enough motive to put any doubt in the mind of the audience.
But this is all just my personal opinion, there seemed to be a lot of contented appreciation as the curtain came down from the audience around me. You imagine though it was audience of Ruth Rendell fans who were happy to see her work adapted for the stage.
A Judgement in Stone can be seen at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate until Saturday April 1. Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01604 624811 or by visiting www.royalandderngate.co.uk.