Auckland Theatre Company's season-opening comedy this year is a black slapstick that crowds in some favourite old gags - you know before they begin how they're going to turn out, but the comfortable nostalgia adds to the live fun.
Irish playwright Graham Linehan has done a very good job of adapting the classic Ealing Studios 1955 film into a piece that inhabits the theatre properly - placing all the action in the train-rumbled house of Mrs Wilberforce (rouge-cheeked Annie Whittle).
And what a busily decorated place Rachael Walker has designed for the old dear - the bedroom is on an angle which separates it nicely from the living room, and the bits of funny business are wonderfully framed by myriad surprising nooks and crannies.
Mrs Wilberforce's first cup of tea with the local constable (a solid performance from Paul Minifie) feels a little muffled and slow - and the step-on-the-long-scarf trick seems laboured when Professor Marcus (Carl Bland) arrives - but the criminal gang-turned-"musicians" ratchet up the energy and fun when they all burst in clutching violin cases.
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Carl Bland's devilish goatee and grand air suit his criminal mastermind, while Andrew Grainger as the good-natured goon, Byron Coll as the pill-popping geezer, Peter Hayden as the confidence-lacking confidence man and Toby Leach as the hissing continental hard man seem an effortless ensemble.
Directors Colin McColl and Cameron Rhodes use the set well - all the gangsters' snapping and machismo seem squeezed into cramped, cluttered spaces.
The second half unfolds perhaps a little too like clockwork, and the end is a little anti-climactic, but Mrs Wilberforce's volunteer lady friends from the Marvellous Theatre Group for senior citizens do a great job.
This is old-timey kitsch - from the "real" chimney smoke to the cartoon music to the looming shadows at the door to the woefully underused sick parrot that, we're told, looks like a "diseased washing-up glove".
As Professor Marcus puts it: "Being fooled by art is one of the pleasures of the middle class."
What: The Ladykillers
Where: Maidment Theatre
When: To March 7.