How to put a smile on several hundred faces in a single evening:
Take one classic 1950s comedy film and rejig the script for the stage.
Add a disconcertingly wonky set and some superb special effects.
Season well with slapstick humour and a handful of running jokes.
Sprinkle a topical gag or two on top, including a pop at bankers, the 21st century’s favourite villains.
Then choose a top-class cast who aren’t afraid to look very silly indeed.
The result is The Ladykillers, at Sheffield’s Lyceum till Saturday, then Nottingham Theatre Royal for a week from from October 29.
Marcus, the Major, Harry, One-Round and Louis really are the most incompetent and unlikely set of crooks you could ever wish to find; it’s a mystery how they ever planned a successful heist. But Paul Bown, Clive Mantle, William Troughton, Chris McCalphy and Shaun Williamson hurl themselves headlong into their roles, and their antics certainly succeeded in bringing tears of laughter to the first-night audience’s eyes – especially when things didn’t quite go according to plan, and the generally first-class stage management went slightly askew.
Michele Dotrice as not-so-dotty and strictly honest elderly landlady Mrs Wilberforce is a perfect foil to all the silliness and shows that she has lost none of her flair for comedy.
The Ladykillers is a great night out for everyone – fun and laughter guaranteed.