Thursday, 04 May 2017

The Lady Killers April 2017


After taking you back to your good old topping school days with ‘Daisy Pulls it Off’,  Torrington Players will be bringing you forwards to the 1950’s, with their Spring production of the classic Ealing Comedy, ‘The Ladykillers’, written and adapted for the stage by Graham Linehan, writer of TV’s  Father Ted and Black Books.


Join us in our multimedia visual feast, as we watch the courageous Mrs Wilberforce and her sidekick, General Gordon, out thwart Professor Marcus and his band of hapless criminals. Expect trains, guns and a lot of tea drinking, in our 1950’s style, 3D movie experience.


Show times are: Thursday 27th April , Friday 28th April , Saturday 29th 


Noda Review by Dianne Ffitch 29th April 2017


The Lady Killers by Graham Lineham


Directed by Steve Puttick


Produced by Jean Evans-Loud




Having seen Torrington Players’ production of Female Transport, three years ago, I was expecting great things of this production – and I was not disappointed.  The Plough is a lovely venue and you are lucky to be able to perform to such appreciative audiences.




I had read The Lady Killers, a few weeks prior to your invitation and was very intrigued to see how the various requirements of the script would be staged in the limited space, given that the original production involved the use of a revolve, to reveal the dilapidated, subsiding house.




The script itself, is very different to the original film, turning an old story into a modern farce.  There were plenty of laughs, both at the scripts and the characterisations which were given an old-fashioned dose of physical comedy.  The running gag, where Mrs. Wilberforce stands on the Professor’s scarf, continued to amuse and they were successful at making this appear accidental.




The opening of the show with the black and white film titles, set the scene, giving us a clear indication of the location and period of the play.  Short extracts of black and white film to move the story along worked very well; I particularly liked the filmed roof sequences (in the absence of a revolve) as the gang members gradually came to a sticky end as Act 2 progressed toward the conclusion of the play.




The action is set in the home of Mrs. Louisa Wilberforce who lives in her house close by Kings Cross Station.  A criminal gang, planning a robbery of one of the trains, occupy an upstairs room of the sweet old lady’s dilapidated house, posing as a string quartet to cover the heist.  The gang all have greatly over exaggerated personalities, which the actors fully embraced.  The Professor as the mastermind of the operation is the glue that holds the gang together, but in himself is strangely unhinged.  His gang clearly have problems of their own, being a druggie, an Italian mobster, an ex-boxer and a closet transvestite – clearly an inept group of villains with ideas that exceed their capabilities. 




The characterisations of the various gang members were extremely well portrayed, and the physicality of the individuals, fully embraced by the actors to great success as the story moved along.  The comic timing of the slightly absent-minded Professor with his ‘Doctor Who style’ scarf, was a joy, together with the dysfunctional One Round, the word-mangling Italian Louis, bumbling Colonel and OCD Harry, they produced some excellent ensemble work. Their pace throughout the show was good.


The frail looking Mrs. Wilberforce, appears to be a push-over for the gang.  She was portrayed as a lonely old woman, with only the local Constable, on his beat for company.  We discover that even her own lady friends have started to by-pass her in their social arrangements.  Her enthusiasm for introducing a musical interlude to her friends is clear- until she realises that she has been had.




The crooks manage to con Mrs. Wilberforce into unwittingly moving the stolen cash to her home after the robbery.  It is not until the stolen money is back at her house that things start to go wrong for the Professor and his gang.




The introduction of Mrs Wilberforce’s lady friends, prior to their introduction in the script, was an interesting directorial decision.  It can be difficult for and less than satisfying for actors when a large number of ‘extras’ appear in a very small section of any show and I can appreciate why you wished to expand their roles.  With the first act being somewhat longer than the second, I did feel that the introduction of the telephone conversations in the audience caused a break in the action on stage and was not entirely successful. 




During the concert, acting as ‘The Loose Society of Elderly Woman,’ the ladies were very successful in their various displays of enjoyment/dislike of the avant- garde music played by the ensemble.  It was clear that One Round begins to believe he really can play his beloved cello.




The arrival on the PC put the cat amongst the pigeons, and the gang hiding in the under stairs cupboard worked very well.  And the parrot was excellent, keeping the audience giggling with his various antics.




The various comings and goings of the gang up the stairs, into the bedroom, into the kitchen, into the street, into the tiny broom cupboard kept the action moving and the audience engaged, until their ultimate demise and the conclusion of the play with its final twist, and Mrs Wilberforce’s unforeseen but fortuitous windfall.




Set and Props


On initial viewing of the set and staging prior to the opening of the show, at which point I had a good opportunity to absorb the setting, I did feel that the set was very well dressed.  However, it was perhaps a little too ‘clean’ for an old lady’s house which was suffering from, what appeared to be, significant subsidence.  The pictures being tilted, and oddly angled curtain rail made it clear that the house did have structural problems; this could have been enhanced with cracks and peeling wallpaper.  The painting moving of its own accord, after being straightened, was a nice touch and worked very well.




The exit, upstage beside the window, seemed a little incongruous but this was probabley due to the stage limitations.




The furniture and props were appropriate to the period.




Sound Lighting and Film




The sound and lighting was good, although there was a dark spot far downstage which the Constable stood in – perhaps in error- at one point towards the end of the show.


I must congratulate Marcos and the Media students for the production of the video sequences; I felt these worked particularly well and a great deal of time and effort had clearly been put into creating a 1950’s film.  There are clearly some very talented students at Great Torrington School who helped in this area.




The costumes worked very well, and were appropriate to the period.  The Professor’s slightly eccentric attire through to the Major’s ‘country gentleman’ appearance, to the Italian mobster styling of Louis, the tidy appearance of OCD druggie Harry and East End ex-boxer One Round were well selected to mirror the characters.




And the ‘Loose Society of Elderly Women’ – lovely hats!




Overall, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the show and thank you so much for inviting us.  The cast and crew should be very proud of producing a show to such a high standard and I must congratulate everyone concerned. 







Thursday, 04 May 2017