Steve puts his mark on ladykiller role

WHEEL DEAL: Heather Davies (Gilda/Vy), Steve Cowley (Alfie), Olivia Brooks (Siddie/Lily), front row left to right, with Neil Beards (Humphrey/Smith), Frankie Hudson (Carla/Annie), Rob Dean (Harry/Lofty), Richard Leivers (Joe/Lacey), Ann Hawkswood (Doctor/Ruby and Helen Preston (Flo/Shirley, back row, in Alfie
WHEEL DEAL: Heather Davies (Gilda/Vy), Steve Cowley (Alfie), Olivia Brooks (Siddie/Lily), front row left to right, with Neil Beards (Humphrey/Smith), Frankie Hudson (Carla/Annie), Rob Dean (Harry/Lofty), Richard Leivers (Joe/Lacey), Ann Hawkswood (Doctor/Ruby and Helen Preston (Flo/Shirley, back row, in Alfie

It was an iconic film of the 1960s, and the one that turned Michael Caine into a household name – and now Hasland Theatre Company has brought Alfie to north Derbyshire.

It was an iconic film of the 1960s, and the one that turned Michael Caine into a household name – and now Hasland Theatre Company has brought Alfie to north Derbyshire.

He’s still a cheeky cockney, self-regarding and politically incorrect as ever, and as always the personification of ‘treat ’emmean, keep ’ em keen’.

Steve Cowley has caught the accent, the impudence and the vulnerable streak lurking under the strutting front, and made the character his own; and he copes like a veteran with the sheer size of the role.

Just like in the movie, a procession of ladies moves through his life and out the other side. Olivia Brooks is desperate housewife Siddie in a blonde Mary Quant wig, and also dowdy Lily who delivers Alfie’s ultimate comeuppance.

Heather Davies is outstanding as submissive Gilda, given an unexpected core of steel by motherhood; and doubles as a giggly barmaid.

Frankie Hudson is sexy nurse Carla, and domesticated but determined Annie. Helen Preston carries off a mumsy cafe owner and a blowsy landlady; Ann Hawkswood is a brisk doctor, and voracious cougar Ruby.

There’s not a whole lot for the men to do, but between them Rob Dean, Richard Leivers and Neil Beards present a fragile TB patient, a Geordie lorry driver, a squeaky-voiced bus conductor, a straitlaced abortionist and assorted pub and cafe patrons.

Add in a soundtrack straight out of Pick of the Pops, and the all too familiar ‘60s hairdos and mini-skirts, and the result is a Hasland show to remember.

It’s at the Playhouse on Storforth Lane until Saturday.

LYNNE PATRICK