Five crooks take over an old ladies wonky house with a plan to commit the ultimate crime – getting rich via the perfect robbery near to King Cross railway station where the old lady lives. Eventually, the interfering (and morally high) Mrs Wilberforce (Michelle Dotrice) finds out and the criminals soon realise there is only one way to escape – by killing her. But can they go through with it?
The Ladykillers made it’s début at Southampton’s Mayflower last night with it’s (almost) laugh-a-minute-slapstick and occasionally dark comedy based on the successful film of the same name. Graham Linehan – the man behind TV classics such as Father Ted and The IT Crowd – has done more than a sterling job at adapting the film perfectly for a stage audience.The British stereotypical characters; young pill-popper Harry Robinson (William Throughton), a dippy One Round/Mr Lawson (Chris McCalphy), Romanian (or is he Italian?) gangster Louis (Shaun Williamson), secret transvestite Major (Clive Mantle) and the mastermind of the heist, Professor Marcus (Paul Brown) provide the perfect blend of comedy to appeal to all kinds of humour across a huge age range (something that Linehan mentions in the program notes as being “absolutely vital” in his works). Indeed, the comedy throughout could be compared to many British sitcoms from over the past 5 decades, with hints of Dad’s Army, Carry On’s, Monty Python, and even Bottom. It’s all these ingredients, along with a brilliant set and wardrobe, that keep us glued throughout the performance – although One Round probably wins the most laugh out loud moments (stupidly shouting through the letterbox “I’m back from the robbery” being a stand out moment in the first act).
Whilst the First Act provides easily the most laughs, the Second Act is slightly more dark with less of those laugh out loud moments – but there are a few deaths to witness so it’s not surprising. The old ladies, some of who were winners of a local Nominate Your Nan competition (again stereotypical, this time perhaps of a David Walliams’ “Ladee” character from Little Britain) are definitely worth looking out for!
The set definitely deserve it’s own special mention. The majority of the play is set inside Mrs Wilberforces house – but the transformation to the outside scenes are swift and brilliant. Without giving too much away, especially look out for the cars used in the robbery. Genius!
The Ladykillers runs at Southampton Mayflower until Saturday 20th October. Tickets here