Review: ‘The Ladykillers’, Gielgud Theatre (14th December, 2011 [matinee])

I used to work at the Gielgud theatre where ‘The Ladykillers’ is currently on, so after the matinee on Wednesday I popped backstage to catch up with my friends and have a good nosy around the set. I didn’t see any of the cast but was told how absolutely lovely everyone is.

The best things about ‘The Ladykillers’ are the truly impressive old fashioned tricks they use, such as the chairs moving about randomly as the train passes, a knife getting thrown from one side of the stage and sticking in someone’s head on the other side… that sort of thing… oh and the world’s cutest car chase. The rest of the show is a fine, it’s not the best thing I’ve seen on stage nor is it the worst, it’s very enjoyable and the comic performances are spot on. Some of the sight gags are too set up (the scarf especially), particularly if you’re in the upper-circle but it’s early days and I imagine as the run progresses the timing will become better and they’ll look more spontaneous. I’ve never seen the film so can’t comment on the closeness of the adaptation but I will say it does get very muddled towards the end and I don’t think running the last ten minutes or so in darkness works. It also wasn’t as funny as I was hoping but in chatting to my former co-workers they said it does really depend on the audience, sometimes it clicks and other times it doesn’t.

Peter Capaldi and James Fleet were the stand out performers for me, both very funny and spot on with their timing although I haven’t the slightest idea what accent Peter Capaldi was going for (at first it sounded like a bad Welsh accent but it wasn’t distracting once I got used to whatever wispy accent he was going for) but that’s not a criticism of his performance. Clive Rowe was also brilliant… and so was everyone else but Capaldi and Fleet stood out.

It wasn’t even close to sold-out so I think getting tickets shouldn’t be a problem, especially if you go for a matinee, but I really wouldn’t pay more than £30. If you’re booking for the upper-circle, be warned if your towards the back you will miss things and the sight lines aren’t great if you’re not in the centre.

For me, 4/5 for the production, 3.5/5 for the show.

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