The Ladykillers*** (Vaudeville Theatre, 9 July 2013)

Posted: July 10, 2013 in Theatre

I saw this during its first West End run, but having been offered a Press Night freebie, I could think of no reason not to see it again upon its return from a national tour. Originally, I thought that the brand of quaint British eccentricity transferred well from screen to stage, the set was wondrous and the visual gags were well choreographed; however I could not understand why a brisk 91 minute film needed to be stretched to over 2 hours plus interval, particularly as it so obviously ran out of steam well before the end. All of these comments apply equally to this re-cast version which contains some very strong performances, except that John Gordon Sinclair seems wrongly cast as the criminal mastermind; he is a skilled and experienced comedy actor, but there is absolutely nothing sinister or menacing about him and, robbed of the darker undertones which this character can bring to the piece, a black comedy is diminished to being just light grey. It might have been expected for the production to be a little more polished by this stage; prop malfunctions can be unavoidable, but Angela Thorne, in the not too challenging role of the old lady, repeatedly fluffed her lines and Ralf Little seemed much too aware that he could get bigger laughs by corpsing than from his material. All that said, this is still a fun show and there is far more to enjoy than there is to dislike.

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