THEATRE REVIEW: Spalding drama group put new take on 1950s' Ealing Studios dark comedy, The Ladykillers, at South Holland Centre, Spalding
SADOS (Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society) have turned to the darkest of black comedies for its pre-Christmas production this week.
The Ladykillers, a slice of Ealing Studios' film noir that might have been the inspiration for the river of Scandinavian crime dramas that have flooded British TV screens over the last ten years, is directed for SADOS by Andrew Rudd and produced by Steven Jackson.
Filmed in 1955, The Ladykillers was the film which proved that Alec Guinness could play dastardly, scheming and malevolent characters just as well army generals, wise old sci-fi mentors and English spy hunters.
More importantly, it was the film that catapulted Peter Sellers from Goon Show cult comedian to leading man.
In SADOS's hands, The Ladykillers gives retired teacher Jane Moss a chance to emulate Katie Johnson's naive Mrs Wilberforce into an altogether more principled widow, with only annoying South American cockatoo General Gordon for company.
The plot has stood the test of time, a gang of armed robbers use a mixture of old English charm and teasing menace to get Mrs Wilberforce's help in hiding their stash of cash.
Led by the despicably sleazy Professor Marcus, played by Kevin Sharp in his first leading role for SADOS, the gang is made up of sizeable bouncer and ex-boxer One-Round (Jonathan Tibbs), Major Courtney (Laura Scott), Cockney wide boy Harry (not I'm a Celebrity's Redknapp, but played like the ex-football player and manager by Callum Forman), and Romanian knifeman Louise (Zack Colam in the role originally played by Herbert Lom).
Despite coming to Mrs Wilberforce's aid with an impromptu concert for her WI "chatmates", including SADOS debutant and dance/drama graduate Lauren Bullock as the naive but innocent socialite Mrs Tromleyton, the gang fall foul of their landlady's high regard for law and order.
When Mrs Wilberforce threatens to "shop" the gang to the police, the thieving five Ladykillers try and plot to kill her off.
But when One-Round takes it open himself to protect the old lady, the gang ends up turning on each other.
One by one, the major, Harry, One-Round, Louis, and finally Professor Marcus himself, all meet their demise at the same time as a steam train choo-choos past Mrs Wilberforce's house.
In the hands of SADOS, The Ladykillers is every bit as dark as St Nicolas Players' interpretation of Brassed Off was last month.
In fact, it will probably be a widow's very worst nightmare.
Review by Winston Brown