The Ladykillers – Review

The Ladykillers, Little Theatre Company, Brewhouse Arts Centre, Union Street, Burton

10-14 March 2015

I don’t know why I find myself surprised by Little Theatre Company productions – but I do.

We all know that John Bowness’ attention to detail is legendary and that the company’s set design will always make the best available use of the Brewhouse stage. Superb sound and lighting are also a given. But for me The Ladykillers  is on a par with the very best productions that LTC has put on.

There is of course the sharpness of Graham Linehan’s script, which for me has taken quite a flabby film and tightened it up superbly. The asides and one liners come thick and fast and the pace is at times almost farcical.

The plot is simple. A black comedy which pits a little old lady, fond of bothering the police with tales of Nazi newsagents, against a gang of ruthless criminals.

Pretending to be amateur musicians, the gang rent rooms in her home while they plan and execute a security van robbery. The police are left clueless after the raid but Mrs Wilberforce has her suspicions and the gang decide that she must be silenced.

What really makes this show stand out is the casting. Bear in mind that the original film had the likes of Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom, Cecil Parker and Peter Sellers in the major roles. These are superbly upstaged by LTC members.

With Phil Robinson leading the gang comprising Matt Bancroft, Daniel Tunks, Peter Banton and Rob Tunley who are pitted against Bethan Waite’s seemingly indestructible old lady there is nary a wrong note.

Helping out as Mrs Wilberforce’s friends are Vanessa Birch, Dawn White, Kay St Clair, Jodie Whitehead and an almost unrecogniseable Michael Mear – I say almost, but there were several audience members who spotted the familiar raised eyebrow.

Mark Pearson supplied the long arm of the law who had to deal with Mrs Wilberforce’s delusions at the beginning and her bewilderment at the end.

Each and every actor fitted superbly into their roles and not only managed to reflect the film stars’ performances but added something of themselves to the part which for me lifted this into the realms of a Little Theatre Company classic.

This is one of those shows where everything has come together perfectly to give you a night out to remember. Please don’t miss it.

The Ladykillers, performed by the Little Theatre Company, continues at the Brewhouse Arts Centre, Union Street, Burton, until Saturday night with performances at 7.30pm each evening and a matinee show at 2.30pm on Saturday. Tickets are available from the Brewhouse box office on 01283 508100.

Bill Pritchard

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