Tudor Players’ “The Ladykillers” – 13 October 2015, Library Theatre, Sheffield
As part of my ongoing mission to work my way through all of the theatres Sheffield has on offer, whilst supporting local theatre companies and have a good laugh along the way, this evening I found myself in the Library Theatre for the Tudor Players performance of The Ladykillers.
This Sheffield amateur premier wasn’t just the original Ealing Studios classic brought to life on stage as it was written by the comedy genius who gave us Craggy Island and Reynholm Industries, Graham Linehan, who retains some of the charm and darkness of the last of the great British comedies made at the studio, whilst injecting more laugh out loud comedy.
Based on the motion picture screenplay by William Rose and with special arrangement with Studiocanal, the play was directed by Peter Howard and featured an outstanding cast, alongside General Gordon the parrot (the heard but not seen diseased washing up glove), of James McCready as Constable McDonald, Andrea Howard as Mrs Louisa Wilberforce, Roger Bingham as Professor Marcus, John Fereday as Major Courtney, Ross Bannister as Harry Robinson, Rod Duncan as One-Round (great name for a character), Phil Gascoyne as Louis Harvey, and Pam Bush as Mrs Jane Tromleyton.
The Ladykillers is the story of elderly widow Mrs. Wilberforce, a fan of reporting suspicious behavior to the police. Unaware of her reputation, the dapper thief Professor Marcus rents rooms in her home for himself and his band of cohorts. Posing as a string quintet, the thieves pull off a bank robbery, but slip up in front of Louisa as they try to escape. Agreed that they need to murder her, the bumbling crooks wind up double-crossing each other and slowly killing themselves off.
Alongside praise for Linehan’s re-working, which captured the comedy, timing and slapstick of the Ealing comedies, I must sing the praises of three cast members, Andrea Howard, who perfected on stage the not as dotty as she seems old lady, Ross Banister who shone (and not just due to his polishing skills) as the Cockney geezer with a cleaning obsession, and Rod Duncan who pitched his nice but dim character at the perfect level.
As someone who has worked behind the scenes at various art venues, I want to take a minute to thank the backstage team including Hansel D’Roza and Peter Howard (managing to cram a characterful two floor house including the bathroom on one small stage), Bryan Ashcroft, John Jakins, Paul Kelly, David Parkin, Graham Ward, Anthony Maycock, Paul Screaton, Bridget Ball, Edwina Gascoyne, Carolyn Heslop and friends of Tudor.
Following success of Linehan’s update in the West End in 2011 and a nationwide tour, this is the chance to see a great local performance of it at the bargain price of £9 (£8 for concessions) from now until Saturday. To book telephone 0114 285 3450 or email email@example.com.
And the moral of the story “be careful with long scarves”.
Founded on 3 March 1967 the Tudor Players perform three shows a year and have already confirmed the dates of their next three comedy productions for 2016, all also performed at the Library Theatre, starting with Yes, Prime Minister from Tuesday 16 to Saturday 20 February, followed by Humble Boy from Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 May and ending next year with Hotel Paradiso from Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 October.