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Review: The Ladykillers, Westacre Theatre

Westacre Theatre Company have ventured over into the dark side with this clever interpretation of this delicious famous black comedy, The Ladykillers.

The Ladykillers, Westacre Theatre (12591421)
The Ladykillers, Westacre Theatre (12591421)

The intimate studio theatre atmosphere was just right for this production, based on the classic 1955 film starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. It has been widely recognised as a piece of Ealing Studios film noir.

From the pen of Graham Lineham (of Father Ted fame), this period piece has stood the test of time with its rich, mix of quirky characters and witty dialogue.

Cleverly directed by Andy Naylor, one of the first things that struck the audience on Thursday's opening night was the revolving set which proved to be both a blessing and a curse. It was an inspired way to deal with the numerous scene changes, but being manually spun, meant that we endured the noise of the turn-table and interruption of the flow of the action.

Comedy is all about timing and at times on the opening night the action did lack pace.

The Ladykillers, Westacre Theatre (12591425)
The Ladykillers, Westacre Theatre (12591425)

There are laughs-aplenty as the motley crew of rather unsavoury criminals, who involve the rather batty elderly widow, Mrs Wilberforce, a wonderful performance by Sue Smalley, in their bank heist, are devilishly delightful as their in their robbery master plan starts to go pear-shaped.

But there seemingly naive landlady, is not as daft as she appears and they nearly all come to a grisly end courtesy of the Newcastle train as it chuff-chuffs past the old lady's house at King's Cross in London.

There were some wonderful characterisations, particularly from Ros Chandler as the awful, creepy Professor Marcus who charms his way into getting Mrs Wilberforce to rent him her spare room in which to rehearse his "orchestra".

Among the gang are Romanian knife-man Louis, whose portrayal by Robert Dale could have created a stronger contrast between the gangster and the man frightened of old ladies.

Steve Rimmer was excellent as One-Round and Issy Huckle (always good value) was wonderful as Harry Robinson.

The Ladykillers continues on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at 7.30, with a 3pm matinee on Saturday. Call the box office for tickets on 01760 755800.

Richard Parr

Debbie Harris (12586517)
Debbie Harris (12586517)

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