On Saturday my parents and I forfeited Doctor Who (BLASPHEMY!!) to watch a local theatre performance by the Chameleon Theatre Company in Chandler’s Ford of Eastleigh. It was a performance of The Ladykillers and, as a favour for my mum (not that I’d usually do favours for her), I’ll review it.
The story revolves around five bank robbers consisting of ‘Professor’ Marcus, ‘Major’ Courtney, the comedic Mr Robinson, the dumb ex-boxer One-Round (aka Mr Lawson) and the gangster Louis. They go undercover to construct a plan to rob a security van, and set up base by living with Mrs Wilberforce, an old lady who the ‘Professor’ has tricked into thinking that they are innocent musicians who need complete concentration to work.
The robbers all hate each other
The funniest part about all this is the fact that the five main robbers are all completely different and it’s obvious that many of them hate each other. Marcus, as the team leader, struggles the most to keep the team under control and to stop one of the others from revealing their true intentions. This leads to many hilarious moments including a scene where Marcus has to mime actions to Harry Robinson, only for Harry to mess it up completely. The scene in question has Harry trying to tell Mrs Wilberforce that he has a sick mum, and that she is blind and mad, not understanding Marcus. Marcus, understandably annoyed, places his face in his hands and Harry misinterprets this as Marcus trying to mime the fact that Harry’s mum constantly washes her face.
Harry himself is the joker of the pack, suffering from OCD, which creates a brilliant running gag of him frequently cleaning up the house. This is a complete contrast to Louis, an ultra serious criminal who is taking the whole situation too seriously and believes that Mrs Wilberforce will ruin the plan and that Marcus hasn’t planned it out (turns out he’s right). Despite this, Louis is absolutely terrified of old ladies, and with plenty of them in the story, it makes his life pretty miserable. The ‘General’ is the bumbling war veteran who is the first one to die. He tries to get away with the money by himself when the plan goes wrong and ends up on a train track. Well, in fact they all do, except for Mrs Wilberforce, who gets all the money in the end.
My favourite ‘dumb’ character
And that leaves One Round, easily my favourite character. The reason he’s my favourite is because I always like the dumb characters in these sort of things. His lack of understanding of the situation, his repetition of “Am I Mr Lawson?” and his protection of Mrs Wilberforce is just great, and he’s the only character in the whole play who actually changes as the story goes on. Mrs Wilberforce herself is hilarious, as she has no knowledge of the situation until One Round accidentally reveals that they have just robbed the bank. Oh yeah, and she has a diseased parrot called General Gordon.
There are lots of funny moments, so here are my top 5-
5. The aforementioned washing the face scene.
4. When they come back from the robbery and Louis is worried that one of them will betray the others. Suddenly Marcus came out of the toilet.
3. The discussion about which Friday the ‘musicians’ are meant to play.
2. Everything One Round says.
1. When they all hide in the cupboard when the policeman comes into the house, only for Mrs Wilberforce to open the door and they all stare at her, grinning.
Overall, this is a great play. If you missed it then it’s a shame but there are performances every few months at the Richie Memorial Centre in Chandler’s Ford.
Finally, did you know that in the original production of the play, Marcus was played by the 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi – the Doctor being a robber, where have I seen it before?
(Note: Image credit: All images are by Keith Taylor, a member of Winchester Photographic Society.)