I recently attended the press night of The Ladykillers at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. We were told we would be serenaded by a string quartet (which would be come obvious why, later in the show), while we took afternoon tea and cake in the bar. Dressing in 50s glam optional but encouraged! An incredibly special and atmosphere educing pre-show environment that was to perfectly prelude the feast to come!
First things first the staging. Queens Theatre is a remarkable place. Not a particularly large stage, and I would assume they operate on a fairly tight budget. No matter what I see there, the stage set is always very very good. But for The Ladykillers, it really is something special. There is a huge house in front of, which turns round and opens out to give a view of the settings inside. In a small space we are front garden, side street, rooftop, railway yard, hallway, living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The level of detail has been painstakingly worked on and everything run very very smoothly in the transformations. I really can’t applaud this aspect of the show enough.
For the play itself, when Mrs. Wilberforce puts a sign in her newsagent’s window advertising ‘A Room to Let’, she’s delighted when the mysterious Professor Marcus proclaims it perfect for rehearsing his unorthodox string quintet. She soon discovers that she is not making tea for a motley band of musicians, but harbouring a hardened gang of criminals and conmen planning the great Kings Cross Train Robbery!
There are some real laugh out loud moments in this production, and while for me, Professor Marcus (played by Steven Elliot), steals the show, the entire cast was fantastic, each bringing something very different, to each of their respective very different characters – be it the dress wearing Major Courtney to the lovable heavy One-round.
I highly recommend this production and it really rates as one of the best I have seen at the Queen’s Theatre. Catch it while you can before it finds itself on the train to Newcastle!
All images (c) Mike Kwasniak used with permission of The Queen’s Theatre