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

Darkly comic farce - and a frock

The LAdykillers

The Ladykillers 

The Highbury Players 

The Highbury Theatre Centre 


GRAHAM Linehan's quirky comedy, The ladykillers, enjoyed a recent London revival which no doubt hampered the release of the rights for amateur companies across the country. The Highbury Players have been quick off the mark to get hold of the piece and it sits well in their hands.  

The story retains the  Ealing Comedy elements of the classic film; well drawn and district characters mixed with equal measures of intrigue and farce  - make for an entertaining dose of knockabout  humour both onscreen and onstage.   It feels old fashioned but is no poorer in any way for that.  

Mrs. Wilberforce (Val Goode ) lives with her precious parrot - a bird who clearly wins no beauty awards (the parrot - not Mrs. Wilberforce ) 'it looks like a baby in a sock' as one character rather bluntly puts it. Into her life comes a new lodger, a Professor with a keen interest in music... or so he says. 

He is looking for somewhere to practice with his musician friends - a somewhat dodgy collection of individuals who to anyone other than gullible old Mrs Wilberforce would seem less likely to know how to play a violin than would a mountain goat. 

There are some nicely unexpected characters amongst this motley crew.  A major with a yearning to wear women's clothes, a Romanian psycho with an old lady allergy., a cockney spiv with a cleaning obsession and a gormless sidekick who struggles to work out who he is pretending to be.  Add to the mix a gaggle of elderly ladies and the eclectic guest list is complete. 


Comedy, as we all know, relies on impeccable timing and the most part it's achieved well here. Just occasionally, unearned pauses or missed lines slow the flow of dialogue down and potential laughs are lost. That said, the feel and atmosphere of the piece is brought out by the cast and there are some deliciously funny moments. 

Richard Irons gets the tone just right as the gang . . . sorry band leader, Professor Marcus.  Tall on tales, and long on scarf!  

Harry Robinson delivers a good line in cheeky spiv and Robert Hicks is worryingly convincing as a man who feels at home is a frock.  

Dan Payne, as One Round takes gormlessness to a new level and threatens to steal the show . . . as well as the money.  

Val Goode warmed to her role as the kindly Mrs Wilberforce - a lady with no apparent judge of character when it comes to crooks pretending to be musicians.  

Directed by Liz Parry with a clever set design by Malcolm Robertshaw, Ladykillers is a play to tickle your fancy and make you more than weary about who you rent a room to! To 20-12-14

Tom Roberts


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