After studying the original 1955 film starring Alec Guinness for my media A-Level, I knew as soon as tickets became available to see the stage version of The Ladykillers that I had to see it. This unique story of con men and comedy had held my interest from as soon as I saw the first scene, so Ralph Little and co. had a lot to live up to.
The shows I’ve seen since working at Superbreak have been a rather eclectic mix of styles – Phantom of the Opera, Viva Forever! and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical have made up my previous theatre breaks to London, and once again this play was completely different to anything else I’ve ever seen.
From the off, the wit and sparky humour was apparent in almost every exchange the characters had, and I felt an immediate connection to the original film. Set in the home of Mrs Wilberforce for the majority of the show, the acting was fluent and natural and even when things went a little wrong (knocking over props) the light-hearted response of running around the stage to pick it back up again made it even more enjoyable.
John Gordon Sinclair played Professor Marcus to a T, never overplaying the part or losing his sense of humour. Ralph Little as the ‘cockney geezer-esque’ Harry was incredibly funny and the evergreen Angela Thorne as Mrs Wilberforce was fantastic. There was a slight sense of repetition from the character One Round but still, it didn’t take away from the overall atmosphere.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the film (I’d advise avoiding the 2004 Tom Hanks version unless you want to be disappointed) or read the book, the story follows a group of con men bank robbers who lie their way into Mrs Wilberforce’s home as they plan their crime – with hilarious results. A very entertaining section was the ‘concert’ performed for the old ladies of the community, hysterically acted out by the aforementioned and topping off a humour-filled play.
Is it for everyone? Probably not, but I know it’s unlike anything else on the West End or due to show anytime soon. If you love black comedy or want something different to the grand scale musicals and big dance numbers you can usually see, then you should definitely make time to see The Ladykillers. A great night at The Vaudeville Theatre was had by all.