The Ladykillers was originally a 1955 film written by William Rose, and Graham Linehan has done a fantastic job of adapting it into an hilarious play that’ll leave your stomach hurting.
The first thing that draws the audience’s attention is the fascinating, complex set, designed by Michael Taylor. Taylor has managed to create an entire house on stage with many quirky elements, as well as having it revolve to reveal even more incredible sets. The house is almost like a whole character in itself, with its crooked appearance — and with what happens to it when a train goes past! Something else that immediately becomes an essential element to the play is the music, composed by Ben and Max Ringham. It sets the mood straight away and accompanies each emotion throughout the performance.
Angela Thorne plays the innocent Mrs Wilberforce, making her a loveable character who does have her hilarious moments. Yet the stand-out performances come from the “ladykillers” themselves, as the actors all create unique, comic characters that kept me thoroughly entertained. John Gordon Sinclair appears as the leader of the gang, Professor Marcus — and he plays it with such high energy that leaves you smiling throughout. Ralf Little’s performance as Harry Robinson is possibly my favourite, being comical and producing many moments where the audience erupt with laughter. Simon Day as Major Courtney manages to throw the audience into hysterics on many occasions, while Chris McCalphy plays the thick-skulled One-Round brilliantly, eliciting a lot of laughs with every single one of his lines (and he has a few tricks up his sleeve!). Con O’Neill’s Louis is amazing, with his hilarious accent, his aggressive behaviour and his passionate hate for old ladies!
Together, these five actors, with Angela Thorne, create the perfect atmosphere for a comedy and they never failed to amuse me. During this performance, they managed to recover exceptionally well when they had problems with a piece of the set, which left the audience in hysterics. I should also mention that Blair Plant, as Constable Macdonald, is a great addition to the play. The energy of the entire cast, including the ensemble, really helps to establish such a light-hearted, comical feel to the show.
Sean Foley does a fantastic job of directing the play, making it work seamlessly with the complicated set. The amount of slapstick is spot-on, the movement of the play never slows down or goes too far, and the comedic timing is always brilliant. This play ticks all the boxes for me and I left with a smile on my face — it’s an absolute killer!