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The Ladykillers

By Graham Linehan

The Lowry, 26 March 2013

Michele Dotrice as Mrs. Wilberforce.  Photo by Shaun Webb.

Michele Dotrice as Mrs. Wilberforce. Photo by Shaun Webb.

This excellent stage adaptation of the great Ealing comedy makes for an entertaining evening all around.

There is enough of the flavour of the original film, e.g. the sight of Mrs Wilberforce’s mallet hitting the pipes above her sink, to satisfy fans and Graham Linehan adds his own brand of humour too.  The cast are on top form, not least Marcus Taylor as a cross-dressing Major Courtney (Linehan’s influence, I would suppose); and the ‘house that Jack built’ style set, designed by Michael Taylor, is a prodigious creation in its own right.

What you miss here, however, is the definite air of mystery, the sense of something decidedly unsaid, that the film will always possess.  It’s an idiosyncratic and weird and altogether English affair, as no doubt Mrs Wilberforce’s view of the world is.  But there are enough pleasures to make up for it.

The Ladykillers is at The Lowry until 30 March, further details are here.