The Ladykillers

Date 17th March 2017
Society Westovian Theatre Society
Venue Pier Pavilion South Shields
Type of Production Play
Director Denver Codling


Author: Foster Johnson

The Westovian’s 2017 Season continued with a fine production of Graham Linehan’s Black Comedy the Ladykillers.  Based upon the Ealing Comedy Film of the same name it tells the tale of a gang of incompetent thieves, who, whilst escaping with the cash from an armoured van robbery, are ultimately outfoxed by a seemingly vulnerable old lady to such an extent that, in trying to dispose of the only witness to their crime, they end up killing one and other.

Trying to recreate on stage one of the greatest comedies to come off the set of the famous  Ealing Studios or indeed replicate the work of  the array of famous British actors in the film was never going to be easy. They could have easily copied what had gone before but to their credit the Society put their own interpretation of the show and its characters on stage.  Yes there were times when one could pick out nuances from the original but they were few and far between.

The story and its plotline was recounted in a continuous way which involved 16 scene changes and all that comes with such a course of action being taken. That for me slowed down the pace of the production at times and with it the cut and thrust of the sharp interchanges between the characters.

As for the cast it was a mixture of seasoned Westovian players and their younger membership coupled with new members and guests who blended together with each of them portraying their respective characters well.

Of these the tour de force was Helen Hillcoat who at ninety plus years of age and with a theatrical cv.  second to none was excellent as Louisa Wilberforce .  Not far behind was Bill Marsden making a welcome return to the stage as the non too bright and  punch drunk heavy “One Round” so named for obvious reasons.. Newcomer David Jackson gave a solid portrayal of Constable Macdonald whilst Peter Dawson was in tune with the characterisation of the Machiavellian machinations of Professor  Marcus the gang leader. Stan Dix on Westovian debut exuded all of the traits one would expect from a slippery con artist whilst Gary Manson and Tristan Gaines two of the ever developing group of the Society undertook the roles of the cockney wide boy and eastern European villain in perfect character