It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ladykillers - London

When we were in London, the boys surprised me with tickets to The Ladykillers at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.

I'd not seen the movie before, but the boys had, and I'm so glad that we went along to the theatre show - it was seriously good.  Incredibly funny, tightly performed and well acted.  This new adaptation was written by Graham Linehan (Father Ted) and directed by Sean Foley (The Play What I Wrote).

The actor I most recognised was James Fleet who was Tom in "Four Weddings and A Funeral" and Hugo in "The Vicar of Dibley".  He was amazing, as were Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) as Professor Marcus, Ben Miller (The Armstrong & Miller Show), Stephen Wight, Clive Rowe and Marcia Warren as the sweetly innocent Mrs Wilberforce.

Mrs Wilberforce is an eccentric old widow who lives alone with her sickly parrot in a gradually subsiding house in Kings Cross, built over the entrance to a railway tunnel.  With nothing to occupy her time and an active imagination, she is a frequent visitor to the local police station, where she reports fanciful suspicions regarding various people she has come into contact with.  Because of the wild-goose chases she has led them on in the past, her friendly local police officer humours her, but gives her stories absolutely no credence.

She is approached by a comically sinister criminal, Professor Marcus, who wants to rent rooms in her house.  Unbeknownst to her, he has put together a gang for a sophisticated security van robbery at the railway station.  The Professor convinces Mrs Wilberforce that they are an amateur string quintet using the room for rehearsal space.  To maintain the deception, the gang members carry musical instruments and play a recording of Boccherini's Minuet during their planning sessions.

After the successful theft, the real conflict begins.  As the gang leaves her house, one "musician" accidentally drops his cello case, spilling bank notes at Mrs Wilberforce's feet.  She realises the truth and informs the Professor that she is going to report them to the police.

The gangsters, unaware of her reputation with the local constabulary, decide that they have no choice but to do away with her.  No-one wants to do it, so they draw straws.  The Major loses, but tries to make a run for it with the cash in hand.  In quick succession, the criminals double-cross and kill one another, the bodies ending up dumped into railway wagons passing behind the house, with Mrs Wilberforce being blissfully unaware.

When all gang members are dead, Mrs Wilberforce is left with the money.  She goes to the police to return it, but they do not believe her and jokingly tell her to keep it.  She is puzzled, but decides to follow their advice and use the vast windfall to pay for life-saving treatment for her poorly parrot in America.

You might wonder how this all takes place on one stage, but the stage itself is essentially a whole character of its own.  Part of the stage revolves, other parts go up and down, whilst the whole thing shakes violently when "trains" pass underneath the "house".  A car chase scene between the police and criminal gang is seriously amazing and all in miniature - you'll be laughing so much that the deception is perfect.

It's a great show and you won't stop laughing.  Get along if you get the chance.

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