Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, which sold over two million tickets and continually played to packed houses around the UK, Bill Kenwright presents a new production adapted from one of the most celebrated works of the writer often hailed as the successor to Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement In Stone opens at Richmond Theatre on Monday 23 January.
Rendell was first published in 1964 and was awarded a CBE in 1996. Her prolific output included film and TV as well as 80 novels and one of the genre’s most famous characters, Chief Inspector Wexford. Widely considered to be one of Rendell’s greatest works, A Judgement in Stone is loved for its brilliant rendering of character, plot and motive, and is undoubtedly Rendell at her thrilling best.
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Eunice struggles to fit in. When she joins a wealthy family as their housekeeper the very reason for her awkwardness, 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.
The star cast includes award winning TV and stage favourite ANDREW LANCEL best known to TV audiences for his portrayal of villainous business man Frank Foster in Coronation Street, winning Villain of the Year in the British Soap Awards, and as DI Neil Manson in over 300 episodes of The Bill. On stage in 2016 Andrew starred as Captain Von Trapp in the UK Tour of The Sound of Music, and as Brian Clough in the world stage premiere of The Damned United at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Derby Playhouse. In 2014 and 2015 he starred in two Bill Kenwright Productions; 12 Angry Men opposite Tom Conti and as Adam Snow in the World Premiere of Susan Hill’s The Small Hand directed by Roy Marsden – both of which toured nationally. Prior to these he starred as Brian Epstein in Epstein- The Man Who Made The Beatles in Liverpool and its London transfer.
Andrew is joined by SOPHIE WARD who played the beautiful, ill-fated love interest of Young Sherlock Holmes and Dr Helen Trent in long-running ITV drama Heartbeat. She also starred in the acclaimed mini-series, A Dark Adapted Eye, alongside Helena Bonham Carter and as Isabella alongside Juliette Binoche in the 1992 film version of Wuthering Heights.
Pop-idol MARK WYNTER made his professional debut as a recording artist and went on to have nine Top 20 singles, including Venus in Blue Jeans and Go Away Little Girl. He has also enjoyed an acting career that has spanned nearly 50 years, appearing on radio, television, film and stage where he has featured in seven Agatha Christie Company productions.
DEBORAH GRANT has starred in the BBC’s Not Going Out, Bergerac and Roger, Roger. As well as her many TV and film appearances Deborah is a stage veteran; from her first performance on stage at the age of 4, she has performed in many West End and national touring productions and starred opposite Michael Crawford in the West End debut of Barnum at the London Palladium.
Movie icon SHIRLEY ANNE FIELD has had a long and successful career. Her breakthrough role came when she got the part of Tina the Beauty Queen opposite Sir Laurence Oliver in The Entertainer. Her role as Doreen in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning soon followed, with her next role as the female lead in the Hollywood title The War Lover opposite Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner. More recently Shirley Anne was in the award winning Beautiful Relics, a short film directed by Adrian Hedgecock, and the touring theatre productions The Cemetery Club and Five Blue-Haired Ladies Sitting on a Green Park Bench.
ANTONY COSTA shot to fame in chart topping boy band Blue in early 2000 becoming a huge commercial success in the United Kingdom and many other countries, selling 15 million records worldwide to date, including 3.3 million albums and 1 million singles in the UK alone. On Stage Antony has starred in the lead role of Mickey Johnstone in the West End production of the long-running musical Blood Brothers, directed and produced by Bill Kenwright as well as starring in the 10th anniversary tour of Boogie Nights, the 40th anniversary of The Who’s iconic musical Tommy (Blackpool Opera House), Jack and the Beanstalk (Ipswich Regent Theatre), Popstar: The Musical (UK tour) and recently in TV’s Casualty.
BEN NEALON is an Agatha Christie Company stalwart. On television Ben is best known as Lt Forsythe in the popular ITV award winning drama series Soldier Soldier, he also featured in the Oscar-nominated Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. The cast is completed by ROSIE THOMSON, JENNIFER SIMS and JOSHUA PRICE.
The production will be directed by ROY MARSDEN who is best known as an actor, particularly in his role as Commander Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV’s P.D. James series, which he played for 15 years. But he has also been directing plays since he was 15 years old and had two successful West End runs with Noel Coward’s Volcano and Agatha Christie’s (under the pen name Mary Westmacott) A Daughter’s A Daughter. His recent work for Bill Kenwright includes directing a UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Small Hand and the debut production for The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, Rehearsal For Murder, written by the creators of Murder, She Wrote and Columbo, Levinson and Link.
Ruth Rendell who died in May 2015, was an exceptional crime writer and is credited with having revitalised the mystery genre. She won numerous awards in her lifetime, including the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel with A Demon In My View, a Gold Dagger Award for Live Flesh and the Sunday Times Literary Award. She was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In addition to the CBE she became a Life Peer in 1997. Her debut novel From Doon With Death introduced Inspector Wexford who went on to feature in twenty-four of her subsequent novels many of which were adapted for television. A Judgement In Stone was also filmed twice, as The Housekeeper (1986) starring Rita Tushingham and as La Cérémonie (1995), directed by Claude Chabrol, starring Sandrine Bonnaire.