BWW Reviews: THE LADYKILLERS, Vaudeville Theatre, July 9 2013

BWW-Reviews-THE-LADYKILLERS-Vaudeville-Theatre-July-9-2013-20010101

The Ladykillers makes a triumphant return to the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre - this time with a cast led by John Gordon Sinclair as the evil yet charming Professor Marcus.

He's joined by an impressive ensemble cast including Ralf Little, Simon Day, Con O'Neill and Angela Thorne as Mrs Wilberforce, telling the story of five crooks who pose as musicians to carry off a heist - and then find themselves mulling over the necessity of murdering a little old lady to cover their tracks.

Sounds like a thriller or a tragedy? Not a bit of it. Based on the Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, this is a comedy adapted by Father Ted writer Graham Linehan and directed by Sean Foley - recently hailed by O'Neill to BWW:UK as the best comedy director in the country.

And this gang of master criminals are so likeable it makes you question your supportive reactions to their scheming - on press night, the running gag where Marcus cracks young spiv Harry Robinson (Little) on the head every time he spins his chalkboard round was exacerbated by the final smack actually breaking the hinge. Sinclair ad libbed masterfully, happily breaking the fourth wall, while Little cheerfully corpsed much of the way through this dark farce; the audience's sympathies were with all five throughout.

This topsy-turvy reaction was emphasised by Thorne being the weakest link on press night, with a handful of missed cues and mistakes as her co-stars gleefully exchanged gags and sharp dialogue - sharper as the play went on after a slightly slow first act.

The set, meanwhile, is one of the most impressive I have seen in the West End - huge in scale and yet not overcrowding the petite size of the Vaudeville.

The massed ranks of celebrities - including Victoria Wood, Paul Whitehouse, Steve Punt, Sheridan Smith and Thorne's son Rupert Penry-Jones - seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves; and this is an entertaining two and a half hours if black humour appeals.

The Ladykillers is running at the Vaudeville Theatre.


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