Review: The Ladykillers at Chesterfield Rose Theatre

The Ladykillers presented by Fourblokes Theatre Company at Rose Theatre, Chesterfield.
The Ladykillers presented by Fourblokes Theatre Company at Rose Theatre, Chesterfield.
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Brilliant staging, classy acting and a riveting story - what could be better?

A stylish stage adaptation of Ealing film comedy The Ladykillers is a dead cert to pack in the punters at Chesterfield’s Rose Theatre this week.

Every inch of the stage is used to great effect. The ground floor of the set houses a cooker, sink, dining suite and hidey-hole while the upstairs room has a window leading out onto a roof overlooking a railway.

The sound effects of trains hurtlimg past with whistles blowing and headlights flickering across the window add to this aural and visual delight.

Trappings aside, it’s the acing which makes this gem of a show sparkle like a rare diamond.

Sandy Lane is outstanding as the seemingly dotty old bird Louisa Wilberforce, whose stooped posture perfectly characterises a senior citizen struggling to get about but whose mind isn’t quite as feeble. Her sole companion is much-loved parrot General Gordon who is often heard but never seen as he doesn’t like daylight.

Mik Hovarth is spellbinding as the flamboyant amd charming Professor Marcus who swans into the old lady’s house with a lengthy scarf and a hidden agenda. Masquerading as the leader of a group of musicians, he’s really the frontman for a gang of robbers who are plotting a heist at the nearby railway station.

The professor’s motley crew of allies are exquisitely characterised by Ben Sherwin who plays the pill-popping, cleaning obsessed Harry, Phil Stanley as the dim, man mountain of a boxer One-Round, Steve Dunning as the cross-dressing war hero Major Claude and Adam Guest as the surly Romanian and old lady-phobic Louis. The gang make a great entrance on stge, brandishing their musical instrument cases as though they were guns.

Phil Simcox plays a likeable bobby who attempts to quell the fears of Mrs Wilberforce’s wild imagination - a reminder of a golden era when city bobbies had time to drop by for a cuppa and a chat with a vulnerable member of their community.

It would be a crime to miss this delightful play which is directed by Barry Taylor for Fourblokes Theatre Company. Written for the stage by Graham Linehan whose credits include Father Ted, this production is an accurate representation of William Rose’s screen script.

The Ladykillers continues its run at Chesterfield’s Rose Theatre tonight (Friday, January 20) and tomorrow at 7.30pm.

For tickets, contact www.chesterfieldstudios.co.uk or call 01246 271540.