The Ladykillers (3 stars)

The Ladykillers

credit: Shaun Webb

Graham Linehan-penned take on classic movie retains its spirit

It was a wise move of Graham Linehan’s to retain the period setting for his stage version of The Ladykillers. That way he could focus on filling it with more gags than the classic Ealing black comedy contained when it was released in 1955. And after a slightly sluggish first half, he more than succeeds as the play races towards its heady conclusion, with the gang of thieves being whittled down as their aim to kill off a gentle old lady who has rumbled their plan backfires spectacularly.

A uniformly excellent cast (including Michelle Dotrice as the law-abiding Mrs Wilberforce and Paul Bown as the sinister ‘Professor’) are lodged into the action by Sean Foley’s inventive production featuring a lopsided house which swings round to throw us onto a precarious ledge or deep into a steam-filled railway tunnel.

Only a heavy rotation physical gag and Shaun Williamson’s dubious Romanian accent ring false notes in a piece which proves that you can put a classic movie onto the stage with success by retaining its spirit and simply giving it a shake.

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Mon 19–Sat 24 Nov. Seen at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 6 Nov

The Ladykillers

Father Ted writer Graham Linehan's new adaptation of this black comedy about the battle between a little old lady and a gang of criminals.