‘The Ladykillers’ is back in town. Now on its third cast of bumbling, murderous crims, it’s as anarchic and free-wheeling as anything you’ll see on a West End stage.
Graham Linehan’s script takes the setup of the 1955 Ealing comedy, in which five crooks hole-up in a little old lady’s lopsided house to plan a robbery, and cranks up the contrast. The gags come faster, the killings are crueller and there’s a delicate knowingness to the dialogue that never oversteps the mark.
John Gordon Sinclair is grand as hubristic criminal mastermind Professor Marcus, supported by a hilarious turn from Simon Day as cross-dressing conman Major Courtney. Angela Thorne makes for a delightfully doddery Mrs Wilberforce, and, overall, director Sean Foley manages to retain the warm, ensemble feel of the classic film.
There are times when this production feels a little too chaotic, with more than a few lines getting scrambled and the cast ad-libbing around malfunctions in Michael Taylor’s wildly ambitious set, but it really only adds to the fun. A lunatic farce that’s as black as a policeman’s hat, ‘The Ladykillers’ is as irresistible as ever.
By Stewart Pringle