REVIEW: The Ladykillers by Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society

Clever acting brings to life a motley crew of comedy gangsters

The strains of the opening music ‘This ole house is getting shaky’ certainly set the scene for Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society’s production, at the Manor Pavilion Theatre, of the renowned Ealing comedy The Ladykillers, by Graham Linehart.

When little old lady Mrs Wilberforce decides to rent out the upstairs room in her house by the railway line at King’s Cross Station, it is quickly snapped up by a band of musicians – or are they?

It is soon revealed that, led by Professor Marcus, they are actually planning a security van heist using the ‘band rehearsals’ as their cover.

The robbery is successful, thanks to the unwitting involvement of Mrs Wilberforce and the local police constable, but then the best-laid plans began to go awry as one by one they meet their demise out of the window and on to the railway line below.

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The characters and idiosyncrasies of this motley crew of reprobates, well-orchestrated by Steve Yarnall as the pernickety Marcus, were established from the start.

Ian Harbour played the part of hyperactive, pill-popping Harry with nervous energy in abundance, forever polishing and dusting, while Stephen Knight simply smouldered in the role of the dark and brooding Eastern European Louis, his knife always to hand but with an acute fear of the dark.

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Bob Sturtivant brought an affable charm to the part of ex-boxer One Round, certainly a ‘sandwich short of a picnic’, forever ‘ducking and diving’ and putting his foot in it, and Barry Lister was simply spot-on, making a most dapper and convincing con-man as the rather unassuming Major Courtney, with a penchant for ladies’ dresses!

Central to the action with every movement belying her age, Gillian Coley stepped superbly into the brown brogues of Mrs Wilberforce, clinging to her principles until the end.

Entertaining cameos from David Ballinger as the policeman, Cherine Hill, Celia Monck and Diana McKay as visiting ladies, together with some great special effects and an impressive set that shook with every passing train, all added to the fun of this most enjoyable production, under the experienced direction of Joan Heard.

Tricia Barclay

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