When you see the set for Ladykillers you can be excused for thinking that little tipple of wine you had at lunchtime just tipped you over into a world where your vision had become slightly out of line with reality. Almost everything in your eye-line appears to slope accept that is for the characters in the play. As the play gathers momentum you see before your eyes that rollercoaster model that should have worked if you had only managed to put it together properly. In this case the sets, props and lighting all worked together, and separately, to maximum effect as if that lone ball bearing had been sent on its way to run its course with so many twists and turns until it reached its final resting place. It is easy to understand why these aids to the cast have been so highly praised wherever they have been on display. In this particular case it was somewhere near Kings Cross Station in 50’s London. The main players are one octogenarian and five hoodlums with a supporting cast that includes a policeman, some women who aren’t what they seem, and a parrot not dead nor stuffed it would seem.
The story unfolds of how an unlikely gathering of gangsters rent some rooms in the house of an old lady, Mrs Wilberforce played by Michele Dotrice, to plot and carry out a robbery.
Let’s meet the gang.
Professor Marcus (Paul Bown) – the leader of the gang but does he have the brains to pull it off?
Major Courtney (Clive Mantle) – the second in command who at times may have been more at home in Priscilla, the Queen of the desert.
One-Round (Chris McCalphy) – as sharp as Arthur Mullard and the fall guy in more than one sense.
Harry Robinson (William Troughton) – the pill popping mother’s boy with Frank Spencer aspirations.
Louis Harvey (Cliff Parisi) – the booted and suited failed mafia recruit with the violin case.
Dotrice plays the naïve but strict old landlady to perfection, there are times though where her voice hints at a return to the madcap days of Some mothers do ‘av ‘em and on the odd occasion one wonders if Frank is going to make an entrance.
Everything about this show is polished to perfection, not fortunately like the dusty ramshackle and lopsided house it is largely performed in. It is much more than just a comedy but the humour is infectious as rivers of happy tears roll down the audience’s faces………………and what of General Gordon, the parrot, you ask?
There were three parrots in the original film, a much vaunted 1955 product of the famous Ealing Studios. One of those parrots was an escapologist so one must assume he had fled the nest for good. The other missing parrot ended up in the hands of Monty Python only to be stuffed and stuck on a perch for re-sale. One survived but not to tell the tale, to find out what happened you will need to see the show, I bet you’re dying to see it ………………especially you ladies!
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