The Ladykillers: Theatre Royal Bath
Theatre Royal, Bath
There seems to be a bit of a fashion just at the moment for turning hit films into plays.
This one turns out to be an inspired – though perhaps at first glance unlikely – choice.
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What was a first rate film from the 1950s starring people like Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Frankie Howerd, transmogrifies into a wonderful stage comedy that borders occasionally on slapstick.
It is not so much a play of the film but a totally new and comic take on dark thriller.
Everything is exaggerated from the tumbledown house to the crazy band of criminals themselves, the leader of which is clearly as mad as a hatter rather than darkly cunning.
Staying as close as one can remember to the original screenplay Graham Linehan unveils the story of a little old lady living quietly by the railway lines in Kings Cross who takes in a refined but totally crazed criminal as a lodger.
A wonderful quartet of other gang members arrive to plan their latest robbery posing as a string quartet practising for an important concert.
To the strains of Boccherini the quartet plot to steal oodles of cash while Mrs Wilberforce, played by Michele Dotrice, serves them all tea in her upstairs room.
The play has already had praise heaped upon it and is now playing to packed houses in Bath.
If you can lay hands on a ticket by fair means or foul you won't be disappointed.