Ladykillers, Hull New Theatre Feb 2013
This production of The Ladykillers is based on the 1955 Ealing black comedy film which was the last such British comedy to be directed by Alexander Mackendrick before he headed to Hollywood. This classic film still gets regular repeats on tv and hence the roles of Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner and Katie Johnson will be well remembered by the audience.
This story is a classic tale of a heist gone wrong but it is in the reaction of the various characters after the event that leads to the most memorable moments. Mrs Wilberforce (Michele Dotrice) needs a source of extra income so she puts an advert for rooms to let in a local shop window. “Professor” Marcus (Paul Brown) calls around to view the rooms. He announces that he is a member of a small amateur musical group who wish to rehearse in the rooms. The musicians arrive in quick succession and quickly move upstairs where it is revealed to the audience that they are not musicians but crooks wanting to carry out a major heist. The plan is to involve Mrs Wilberforce without her knowledge.
After the heist, problems start to emerge and the members of the gang start to become suspicious of one another. This will leads to a number of comic scenes.
The story, like the film, still takes place in an era when steam trains regularly shake the house and slow freight trains to Newcastle rumble past like clockwork. Graham Lineham, who wrote the script to Father Ted, has retained the best lines from the original film but has introduced others which have helped freshen up the show. It is interesting to read in the programme notes that Lineham feels that whilst changing a scene in a film can add suspense, the same change slows down the pace in a stage play. It is therefore pleasing to report that the production skips along at a steady cantor and kept everyone in our party, whose ages ranged from 9 to 75, happy.
Clive Mantle’s affable Major Courtney was, in some ways, similar to his recent TV role in the BBC3 Comedy White Van Man. William Troughton’s role as Harry was another source of regular laughs in the early stages of the show. The other members of the cast are not really given a chance to shine until the later stages of the performance which may be a lost opportunity.
The production takes place on a single well designed set showing several rooms of Mrs Wilberforce’s house. The owner is played by the engaging Michele Dotrice who gets the balance right between the loveable yet slightly crazy widow and the shrewd systematic character that made the film such a hit. The set serves to show what is happening in different areas of the house simultaneously. A number of special effects certainly add humour to the show.
Performing: Paul Brown (Professor Marcus), Clive Mantle (Major Courtney), Chris McCalphy (One-Round), William Troughton (Harry), Shaun Williamson (Louis), Michele Dotrice (Mrs Wilberforce).
Adapted by Graham Linehan.
Producer Edward Snape (for Fiery Angel in association with Stage Entertainment UK and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse).
Director Sean Folery.
Between 4th March 2013 and 13th April 2013 this tour will visit 6 venues in Norwich, Woking, Newcastle upon Tyne, Salford, Leeds and Cardiff. This production has already been seen in 17 venues since 14th September 2012
Mon, 4th March 2013 to Sat, 9th March 2013 Theatre Royal, Norwich
Mon, 11th March 2013 to Sat, 16th March 2013 New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Mon, 18th March 2013 to Sat, 23rd March 2013 Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne
Mon, 25th March 2013 to Sat, 30th March 2013 The Lowry, Salford
Tue, 2nd April 2013 to Sat, 6th April 2013 Grand Theatre and Opera House, Leeds
Tue, 9th April 2013 to Sat, 13th April 2013 New Theatre, Cardiff
Review by "Mr Jowheretogo" Stephen Oliver...what a star.
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