Before the lights were dimmed and the revolving house which would become our sole focus for the next couple of hours was revealed, I didn’t have a clue what to expect.
Apart from the play being based on an old black and white movie with the plot centred on a string quartet and an old woman, I knew pretty much next to nothing about what The Ladykillers was about. Yet when the curtains were drawn at Queen’s Theatre, the community venue that sits in the very heart of Hornchurch, I couldn’t have been more surprised in the best possible way. I found myself embarrassingly snorting with laughter as the ‘talented’ group who knew nothing about music, performed to a swarm of pensioners believing the arrangement was a modern-day masterpiece. Every enthusiastically played wrong note had the audience around me in hysterics.
The Ladykillers, adapted by Graham Linehan, takes place in Mrs Wilberforce’s home in 1950s King’s Cross. The innocent old woman advertises to rent out her spare room and Professor Marcus, played by Steven Elliot, turns up at her door asking if he can become her new house mate. Delighted at the news, Mrs Wilberforce welcomes him with open arms. He informs the sweet old lady – who adores her ugly macaw General Gordon that scares the bejeebers out of everyone else – that he is a composer and his string quartet would need the upmost privacy to practice in the spare room. Little does she know, the professor and his quartet, made up of Harry Robinson, Major Courtney, Louis Harvey and One-Round, are actually criminals planning to rob the bank nearby. With a combination of Professor Marcus’ intelligence, Harry’s loveable cockney attitude, Major Courtney’s passion for women’s clothing, Louis’ hatred for old ladies and One-Round’s stupidity, there is something that will make everyone laugh out loud.
The impressive staging, excellent timing and dark plot twist, are all reasons why you should not miss out on the chance to see this adaptation of a classic movie.
The Ladykillers is being performed at Queen’s Theatre from October 3-21. For more details visit queens-theatre.co.uk.