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 Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…