Thursday, March 26, 2015



LADS at The Tractor Shed


As LADS opened their Ealing comedy, there were Ladykillers on the box, too. Turned out to be female pest control experts …
As fans of the 50s film will know, the vermin here are a pseudo string quartet who plan a heist from a room rented to them by an innocent little old lady.
LADS' production, produced and directed by Carole Hart, boasts a splendid set, with chez Wilberforce spaciously suggested, and a spare room – a little cramped, even for chamber music – which revolves impressively to reveal the roof outside the window.
This ingenious version by Graham Linehan [a recent success in the West End] is packed with gags, often physical, and a colourful cast of characters.  There's steam from the passing trains, a lethally long scarf, the criminals tumbling from the cupboard.
The brains behind the gang, “Professor” Marcus – the Alec Guinness role – is played with fine comic style by Daniel Tonbridge. His motley crew are Robin Warnes as geriatric cross-dresser and con-man Major Courtney, Keith Spencer unfailingly amusing as the slow-witted ex-boxer Mr Lawson - his demise particularly impressive, Alan Elkins as the vicious Louie, and Adam Hart excellent as the pill-popping teddy-boy.
Mrs Wilberforce, landlady to the mob and police time-waster, is played by Joan Cooper, convincingly clueless, in a wig that is terrible even by am-dram standards.
The fun could have been a little faster, with a touch more confidence in some performances, but nonetheless a laudable attempt at a challenging theatrical style. It's all “rather fantastical” [as David Hudson's weary copper has it] but most enjoyable – an affectionate tribute to a much-loved movie.

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