Review: Hasland Theatre Company’s production of The Ladykillers

Professor Marcus   ( Steve Cowley, )    Harry (Tom Bannister, )      One-Round    ( Stuart Rooker, )  Louis   ( Matthew Sharratt, )   and  The Major    (Mick McGwyre,)
Professor Marcus ( Steve Cowley, ) Harry (Tom Bannister, ) One-Round ( Stuart Rooker, ) Louis ( Matthew Sharratt, ) and The Major (Mick McGwyre,)

The Ladykillers slays its audience with shots of humour, bang-on characters and bursts of technical wizardry.

Just like the robbery at the core of the story, Hasland Theatre Company pulls off the stage version of the Fifties film.

It’s Ealing-esque in its entirety, from the spooky intro music to the shadowy figures reflected in the window of the front door.

Walls shake and lights flicker as trains hurtle past the criminals’ base, a technical triumph by light and sound maestro Peter Davies.

Spindles are knocked out of a staircase, a hole punched in a door and the whole set is an ingenious masterpiece complete with hidey-hole cupboard and a Belfast sink where the not-so-gaga elderly landlady washes up countless teacups.

While the above make for good visual theatre, it’s the actors who bring the story to life in this wonderful play which is directed by Nicky Beards.

Steve Cowley is outstanding as Professor Marcus, orchestrator of the robbery plot which he does under the guise of a music rehearsal. Swathed in a long scarf which drapes onto the floor and is essential to the story, he milks the flamboyant, arty character for all its worth with sweeping gestures, hand-wringing and hilarious expressions.

His gang do him proud, especially newcomers Stuart Rooker playing nice, but dim One-Round who drops clangers aplenty and Matthew Sharratt as unsmiling, geriatric-hating Romanian Louis Harvey.

Tom Bannister causes lots of amusement as the cleaning-obsessed Harry as does Mick McGwyre playing The Major with a penchant for women’s clothing.

Ann Pinney is the epitome of the sweet old landlady Mrs Wilberforce, whose suspicions are not taken seriously by Constable Macdonald, played by Graham Robinson. But it is Mrs Wilberforce who has the last laugh….

One mystery remains - just what does poorly parrot General Gordon look like? He’s very talkative but spends the entire show covered in a lace cloth!

The Ladykillers by Graham Linehan is at Hasland Playhouse until Saturday, January 24.

Photo by Graham Martin

GAY BOLTON