Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


A high strung string quartet, playing variations on a robbery, Stuart Wishart, James Stevens, Richard Taylor, Bob Graham and Tom Rees

The Ladykillers

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


It seems that with the more recent successes of the two newer versions that exist of The lady killers,  one of the greatest causalities is the original writer, a man called William Rose who no one seems to mention much anymore.

Rose penned some highly acclaimed works and first came up with the idea back in 1955.The Ladykillers was first seen as a successful Ealing comedy, with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, and it won Rose an academy award nomination and a Bafta win for his screenplay.

Since then this delightful tale of old ladies and bank robbers has been adapted for a Hollywood screen makeover by the Coen brothers in 2004 and here by Graham Lineham as a stage play in 2011. Lineham, of Father Ted fame, obviously thought he could cash in and develop the idea and after its opening in Liverpool it transferred to London for a year before embarking on a successful national tour.

The Nonentities bring this spirited comedy to life as the final play of their 80 year anniversary season. It’s a perfect vehicle for any amateur company with its wide age range of characters and the company has not held back with the scale of set or their enthusiasm with this highly enjoyable production.

So think back to an imagined era in the late fifties when your average villain was nothing more than a dim wit opportunist who could be easily apprehended by a uniformed policeman simply grabbing their collar.

Senior Citizen, Mrs Wilberforce owns a large house with rooms to rent and is none the wiser when an amusing collection of bank robbers disguised as musicians take up digs with her. But in the pretence of using the space for rehearsals they are secretly plotting a bank robbery.

gang again

The brain of the operation is Professor Marcus played by Richard Taylor. Marcus not only has to keep his less than intelligent bunch of accomplices in check but also fend off the innocent Mrs Wilberforce from her constant interruptions. It called for great comic timing from Mr Taylor who knitted together the production in practically every scene.

Mrs Wilberforce was played by Joan Wakeman who did a wonderful job of not appearing to be in a play at all but genuinely wandering around her house making tea for her villainous guests and nattering to the local booby. However casual her performance may have seemed she still cleverly brought off some comical cues in a very natural way.

The robbers were as follows. Major Courtney was the nervous con man, not adverse to crossdressing and highly interested in Mrs Wilberforce’s wardrobe. The part was brought shapely to life by the very experienced Tom Rees with great vigour.

Next was Louis, played coolly by Stuart Wishart, the suspicious Romanian, tortured by memories of old ladies in his childhood and ready to knife any who wants to cross him?

Then there’s Harry played by James Stevens the likely lad about town with an obsession for cleaning.

Finally Robert Graham is the group’s heavy, One Round, so called for the antics of his former boxing career when he was both winning and taking a dive all in one round.

There was great support too from Dan Taylor as The Policeman and Dona Abram, Katy Ball, Pat Gale and Sandy Tudor as the society of Elderly women.

Praise must be given to the construction team led by Keith Higgins and Mike Lawrence who filled every available square foot of the stage with one of the most complex yet adaptable and effective sets of the season.

The Ladykillers is a genuine laugh out loud production, packed with great performances and Tori Wakeman’s direction of Lineham’s adaption is true to the atmosphere and sheer mad cap premise of the original. I feel sure William Rose the originator would have been proud.

It’s a superb close to what has been a truly entertaining season of work that has plundered the vaults of previous Nonentities productions from their past 80 years.

Congratulations go to the entire company both on stage and front of house for the creation of such a varied and accomplished catalogue of work and long may it continue. To 16-06-18

Jeff Grant


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