A JUDGEMENT IN STONE
Lyric Hammersmith, London W6
Opened 11 June, 1992

Never content to rest upon their thickening laurels, Neil Bartlett and his cohorts in the Gloria company turn their attention to producing a musical version of a Ruth Rendell story. Beginning with the bald statement, "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write," the play uncovers how "there was more to it than that", chronicling the taciturn housekeeper's relationship with the family over the preceding year. The first act, covering this period, is prone to longueurs; there is little to hypnotise in Nicolas Bloomfield's lush music or Bartlett's often trite lyrics.

Sheila Hancock (sidling in on her husband's Inspector Morose territory) is marvellously granite-faced as Eunice, but the dominant performance is that of Beverley Klein as snooping postmistress, born-again ex-prostitute Joan Smith; Klein is a major asset to any show with a hint of black comedy, and she is here in her element. Action and attention become more concentrated in the second act spanning the family's final day and night, with a suitably Gloria-ous climax, but on the way there we could have done with a few more events to give texture to the steady accretion of atmosphere.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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