"The beloved Ealing classic is brought to uproarious life in this magnificent production from Fourblokes Theatre Company.

A motley gang of criminals seek the perfect hideout to lay low as they plot to carry out a major bank heist. A room to hire at a local house seems perfect, as does their disguise as a classical quintet. The only problems are their new nosy landlady, Mrs Wilberforce, and the fact that none of the gang play any instruments. Mrs Wilberforce is known to the local police for crying wollf - if the gang are discovered, will the cops believe their hapless informant?.

Deservedly remembered as a classic comedy, The Ladykillers stars Alec Guinness as the Professor. Remade in 2004 by the Coen Brothers starring Tom Hanks in the lead, this is a story adored by many, so expectations are high. Fourblokes Theatre Company excel at challenging, harrowing drama - would they equally excel at frothy yet macabre comedy? Andnot just and comedy, but one of the most beloved comedies ever written, in its stage incarnation written by national treasure Graham Linehan or Father Ted fame?

Yes, they do, and with considerable confidence and panache.

Linehan has mentioned Reservoir Dogs as influential upon adaptation, and that is certainly obvious here. The five main characters are well observed, perfectly performed (the comic timing displayed is second to none), and each has the chance to shine - Adam Guest's impressively menacing psychopath Louis has a fear of oldladies; Ben Sherwin's hysterical, jittery Harry has OCD; Steve Dunning's funny, blustery Major has hidden desires. Each of them is superb, enhancing a plot that hurtles along as if it is on rails. Phil Stanley's lovable One-Round is a highlight, bellowing a couple of lines that blow the roof off at times, leaving your reviewer helpless and teary with laughter.

The set, too, is a riotous marvel, containing interior and exterior sets in one exceptional design. But is is the clash of wills between the gentlemanly mastermind Professor Marcus (a giddying, tireless Mik Horvath) andtheir formidable adversary Mrs Wilberforce (Sandy Lane in a wonderfylly determined performance) that lies at the heart of the show, and which resonates most strongly at its close.

That such a gentle start to a show gives way to a mesmerizing Act One close is impressive enough; that it retains and boosts such energetic fun to even greater heights in Act Two is nothing short of atonishing. Just desserts are served aplenty, and a packed house appreciated, roared and cheered through the entire production.

The perfect complement to a dark and stormy night, The Ladykillers is a light hearted comedy with a pitch-black sense of humour, a delicate dance with moments of brutal hilarity, performed with uncanny precision and professionalism.

One of Derby's finest theatre companies has triumphed once more. Unreservedly recommended."

Kevin Redfern

Derby Telegraph

November 2016






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