A killer adaptation of a classic comedy

The Ladykillers
The Ladykillers

A CLASSIC Ealing film starring such acting heavyweights as Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers was never going to be an easy act to transfer to stage, but Graham Linehan’s production of “The Ladykillers” manages to bring the classic black comedy to a new generation.

I saw the show at The Lowry’s superb Lyric Theatre, which boasted probably the most impressive set I’ve ever seen in a stage play.

The production, currently on a nationwide tour, can also call on a pretty impressive cast – not least Paul Bown playing the role of arch criminal Professor Marcus, and Michele Dotrice of “Some Mother’s Do Ave Em” fame in the role of the sweet old lady Mrs Wilberforce.

The two stand-out characters in the story are played to perfection by Bown and Dotrice, although the former misses the charming creepiness Alec Guinness brought so famously to the role.

They are supported by a cast so impressive it would be unfair to actually call them supporting. Marcus Taylor, standing in for Clive Mantle on the night, Chris McCalphy, William Troughton and Cliff Parisi are all superb as the gang members in what is a real ensemble piece.

Written by Graham Linehan, the co-creator of the hit television sitcom “Father Ted” the script is surprisingly a bit hit and miss.

The dialogue lacks the subtle wit of the original film, but I understand that humour from a 1955 film might not transfer easily to a young theatre audience today.

There are plenty of laughs, too, as the hapless gang of crooks come unstuck by their own machinations and the oblivious innocent nature of Mrs Wilberforce.

All in all, this is a very capable, colourful and raucous adaptation of a very English, very funny film.

“The Ladykillers” runs at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, until Saturday, March 30th.

Box Office: 0843 208 6000.