The Ladykillers of Humber Doucy Lane is a wacky spoof of the 1950s Ealing Comedy: The Ladykillers. This energetic, engaging play will have you smiling and laughing from the moment the actors tread the boards and will constantly capture your attention.
The story in a nutshell: An escaped gang of untalented criminals plan their one last heist while putting on a play as their cover. Pretending to be actors, they board with an old lady who reckons she’s the local sleuth.
Five actors play more than ten characters but are ingeniously portrayed so there was no character-confusion at any point for the audience. The costume changes were lightningly quick and the acting was consistently character-specific to the point where the actors never lost the audience or the fast pace set from the start.
How did they cope when two characters were played by the same actor in the same scene? Brilliantly!! I don’t want to give the game away but it was worked into the play in a fun, entertaining way which only added to the delight of the crowd.
The director had integrated as many local references as possible which engaged the audience further. Before the start of the second act there was an element of audience participation where ‘our performance’ was recorded for later use in the play, which only added to our thrills. There were many details in the play to keep your ears and eyes fed to bursting, with plenty of jokes on different levels – you didn’t want to avert your eyes off the stage for a second in case you missed out on something.
Audience engagement was high and concentrated by the size of the tiny theatre. The actors rose to the challenge presented by their constraints – acting more than one character, playing more than one instrument, changing scenery, all in such close proximity to us, the audience that they could look into all our eyes and see the sparkles of delight shining back at them.
Sir John Mill’s Theatre is tiny yet uniquely warm and delectable. The audience, of around 120 are on both sides of a piece of floor, approx. 20m x 10m – which means the set is to the left and right and above the audience. A clever set design allowed for enough scenes to flow with the story and the good use of moveable props were successfully and sometimes hilariously integrated into the show.
The experience of a fantastically engaging actors, a comedy farce, great use of space and a quirky theatre make it a uniquely wonderful experience and I recommend you get yourself a ticket and go see it. This was my first time at The Sir John Mills Theatre for the Eastern Angles Christmas Show – it won’t be my last!.
This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE.