REVIEW: Ladykillers slays

Mrs Wilberforce asking why the gang is hiding in the cupboard.

A brilliant opening night playing to a full house was expected and delivered by 16th Ave Theatre.

Steadily growing in popularity, the theatre’s new play, The Ladykillers, is a masterful selection, full of comedy that will appeal to a wide audience.

Written by Gary Lineham, it is a superb adaption of the 1955 Ealing film of the same name.

The visual humour, verbal gags and clever script gave plenty of breadth  for the cast to play with comic timing.

Led by bogus professor Marcus, a group of fake musicians gather to plan a crime.

A mixed lot, the members of the diverse gang range from dull-witted to seething nastiness.

The bank robbers pose as a string quartet in old Mrs Wilberforce’s lopsided London boarding house, which seems to be slowly subsiding.

The set is an important part of the action, providing dark plot moments, due to the juddering caused by passing trains at this King’s Cross location. 

Simon Butler as Professor Marcus is a delightful mad crime genius, masterminding the whole charade that requires his accomplices to adopt various names and backgrounds in order to keep up the ruse.

Mrs Wilberforce is a benign treasure of gentle sweetness played by Geraldine Broderick.

Matt Glover, Geoff Herd, Jonty Climo, Ethan Thorburn and Simon Butler.

Given to flights of fancy, her persistent desire to see to the needs of her new house mate, the professor, ultimately puts her at risk from the ruthless gang.

The underlying joke behind some of the best lines poke at artistic pretension and the gullibility of ‘discerning’ listeners to music.

The gang, finding themselves forced to perform for Mrs Wilberforce’s collection of pretentious friends, attempt to fool them by pretending their furious scratchings at the violins and cello is modern experimental music.

Mrs Wilberforce however is not fooled, and the gang realise they must dispose of her, or their game is up.

The slow-witted, brain-numbed ex-boxer One-Round is played by Ethan Thorburn, who was recently the musical director for the theatre’s youth production ‘Byron Bay’.

His lumbering across the stage, resting a cello under his chin, and blurting out the truth helped accentuate the manic spiralling downwards as the gang became more unhinged, - not unlike the house itself, which has pictures loose and swinging, and bad wiring causing the lights to wildly go on and off.

These effects, requiring precision timing were presided over masterfully by sound operator Angela Gillespie and lighting operator Alison Clark.

Alison was also part of the set building team, which further highlights how the theatre provides opportunity for people to try their hand at nearly any task.

This play represents the return of Wayne Gould to directing, after an absence of what he says is a number of decades.

His sense of fun seems to feed into the energy displayed by the cast with the result that there is a satisfying flow between the characters on stage.

Geoff Herd (as Major Courtney), Jonty Climo (as Harry Robinson), Matt Glover (as Louis Harvey) are all members of the gang and play off each other well as the action unfolds.

Constable MacDonald played by Liam Hagan delivers more amusing moments both verbally and visually and Mrs Trombleton played by the Allison Stewart is hilarious.

Hidden in the wings and arguably the most important character in the story, while staying invisible, is General Gordon. 

Mrs Wilberforce’s collection of pretentious friends, come to listen to the string quartet.

Played by Vincent J. Gambino, it’s clear 16th Ave Theatre have discovered a wonderful new talent in Vincent who has a very entertaining range of vocal ability.

No one often mentions the people who run the front of house, take care of behind the scenes, and help stage and produce these shows that 16th Ave Theatre put on.

From walking in the door, to sitting in a warm and inviting theatre, through to the refreshment area, there are friendly hospitable members of the theatre who do their best to ensure everyone has a completely enjoyable experience.  And it’s hard not to. 

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