Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Lady Killers" by Riverside Drama Company
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.

The classic 1955 Ealing comedy brought back to life on stage is a wonderful piece of comedy theatre and safely stays that way in Long eaton this week.

Five diverse oddball criminal types are planning a bank robbery and their leader, Professor Marcus rents a room on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow, Mrs Wilberforce under the pretext that they are classical musicians. All is well and the robbery goes to plan until the fruits of their labour come to light.Mrs Wilberforce's law abiding ways get the better of her, even though she has been advised that she is an accomplice, and she decides to contact the police. Unbeknown to the five criminals, Mrs W is already known to the police, which turns out to be in her favour, especially after the criminals are dispatched in various and bloody ways!

Mrs Wilberforce is played wonderfully serene by Liz Turner and is an absolute delight to watch as she sticks to her guns without a shred of fear of those nasty men. Liz brings out the character of Mrs W which is depicted from the opening of the curtains.

Professor Marcus played by Paul Norris is again a master stroke of casting as the calm exterior of the leader of the gang slowly peels away to reveal a cold blooded murderer. great fun to watch and he has some wonderful lines to deliver and some wonderful acting, bordering on the ever so slightly eccentric.

Marcus's accomplices are Harry Robinson (James Billington), a brilliant comic character who has a bit of an OCD issue and loves cleaning. Louis Harvey (Dave Whyatt), the Romanian who hates old ladies, and we find out the reason for this just before his dismissal from the story. Louis would rather slit your throat than look at you and has a lovely way with his words with his misunderstanding grasp of the English language. A wonderful darkly comical part for Dave.

Major Courtney played by Mike Evans is one of the old war boys who has a penchant for ladies' clothes and is one of the more level headed of the gang but he does suffer slightly with his nerves.

And then there's the simple but strangely kind-hearted One Round, or Mr Lawson as he is introduced. Played by Martin Holtom, this is another character led role. One bullet short of an ammo round but protective of Mrs W to the end... and we mean the end!! Some brilliant facial expressions from Martin which brings out the comedy from Lawson's character.

The local bobby on the best, Constable MacDonald, who seems to be a regular visitor to Mrs W's home is played by Robert Osmond and the other character here, apart from the swarm of blue-rinse brigade gang, is Mrs Tromleyton, their leader, played by Amy cannon who made her on stage debut on Wednesday night.

Retaining all the great comedy of the original film, this production, directed by Lizzie O' Hara is a masterclass in comedy theatre. A brilliant two tier set also designed by Lizzie O' Hara and Bob Baron, not quite as lop sided as it could have been but it did the job perfectly well. Being very very picky here but some of the sound effects, namely the record scratching when the record player was knocked was slightly mis-timed, which caused the odd titter, but again, being very picky on my part.

Loved the costumes sourced by Mina Machin, (who also was in charge of the sound) along with the cast.

A wonderfully entertaining and fun night of black comedy, some places were really black, especially one scene with Marcus and Louis near the end, but most definitely worth getting a ticket for this classic piece of theatre.

"The Ladykillers" is at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton until Saturday 28 November 2015.

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