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Sunday, May 26, 2013


(Lyle Buxton; Peter Court , Cobus van Heerden, Charon Williams-Ros, Tim Wells and Iain “Ewok” Robinson. Pic: Val Adamson)

Hilarious play about five bumbling crooks up against a smart, feisty old lady played out on a splendid set. (Review by Caroline Smart)

If you are going to see this KickstArt production – and it is a must-see! – then make sure you get into the auditorium with at least ten minutes to spare so that you can take in Greg King’s splendid set.

The year is 1956. The place, King’s Cross railway station. Wallpapered with endless roses, Mrs Wilberforce’s double-story house has been the victim of subsidence which is why most of it is squiff. I think only 10% of the props and set pieces are actually perpendicular! Added to this, the proximity of the passing trains play havoc with every picture and light fitting in the house – and the technical team led by lighting designer Tina le Roux have produced a masterpiece of chaos to show what happens when a train goes by.

Mrs Wilberforce’s character is established at the beginning when she is explaining to a long-suffering policeman about her belief that someone is a Nazi spy. He doesn’t believe her because she has a history of wild accusations. The most important thing in Mrs Wilberforce’s life is her South American macaw, General Gordon. However, it transpires that Mrs Wilberforce is not the dotty old thing people think she is. It is this feisty force that comes up against a motley bunch of five bumbling crooks who want to take lodgings in her home to execute their heist, masquerading as a classical music group.

Alexander MacKendric took scriptwriter William Rose’s idea in 1955 and turned The Ladykillers into a film starring Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers, among others. Graham Lineham then adapted William Rose’s screenplay into a piece of theatre. Sean Foley, the original West End director of The Ladykillers, describes the show as “a delightfully different entertainment.” His comment is right on the button. The play is clever, hilarious and filled with action with some fun twists at the end.

Director Steven Stead has chosen a rock-solid cast for this production, with Charon Williams-Ros walking away with the honours for a standout performance. With her honed comedy skills, she plays the old lady to perfection in voice and movement.

In the role of Professor Marcus, the brains of the criminal bunch, is the highly articulate Tim Wells who impeccably holds down two accents throughout the show – an accurate Michael Caine and a plummy top-drawer accent. It is a sad that we are to lose his talents when he leaves South Africa shortly to settle in the UK.

Peter Court is superb as the jittery Major Courtney. Iain Robinson is suitably ominous as the mid-European Louis while Jacobus van Heerden handles the knockabout role with great agility. A virtually unrecognisable Lyle Buxton plays a completely different character for him - that of a simpleton muscleman – although perhaps, he’s not quite as dof as he makes out! Completing the main cast is Brandon Moulder as the policeman.

Heading the group of old ladies who come to watch the “concert” is Margaret Logan. Look carefully and you’re liable to spot well-known theatre personalities appearing in this brief group cameo. Here the talents of costume designer Neil Stuart Harris come to the fore in some delightful outfits.
My only adverse comment is that I could never hear what the parrot said, the sound was too indistinct!

Presented by KickstArt in association with Pieter Toerien, The Ladykillers runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until June 16. Booking is through Computicket. For block bookings of 10 or more, or sold performances, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places on 083 250 2690 or – Caroline Smart