Skip to main content

The Ladykillers

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
The wheels of post-war industry were briefly halted on Monday during the opening Edinburgh date of Graham Linehan's new take on William Robinson and Alexander Mackendrick's classic 1954 Ealing comedy. When designer Michael Taylor's elaborate set got stuck on the revolve as Shaun Williamson's crazed Romanian gangster was supposed to be clambering out of the upstairs window of old Mrs Wilberforce's topsy-turvy house, it not only added an accidental comic frisson. It also inadvertently symbolised how an entire country was attempting to push its way towards a new society, but was collectively unable to budge.

This is perfect for a play chock-full of little Englander archetypes attempting a King's Cross bank heist planned from the seeming sanctity of Mrs Wilberforce's upstairs room. A cross-dressing major, a pill-popping spiv, a psychopathic immigrant and a lunk-headed ex-boxer are brought together by Professor Marcus, the self-styled brains of the operation. As the quintet masquerade themselves as a musical troupe, they first charm Mrs Wilberforce before blowing their cover, falling prey to their own self-interest while accidentally inventing modernist composition en route

Linehan and director Sean Foley have upped the ante of Robinson and Mackendrick's already dark comedy considerably in their reinvention of the original. Regardless of the second-act technical glitch, Taylor's set actually is a marvel, as is the heist itself, played out in miniature with remote control cars racing recklessly around the house's front wall. The performances are a mannered set of caricatures with edge. While Paul Bown's Professor Marcus is the seemingly respectable side of crime, it's more telling that its Michelle Dotrice's Mrs Wilberforce who survives, her old money getting newer by the day.

The Herald, November 7th 2012

ends  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…