I will admit to being nervous before the curtains went up on the opening scene of the TET Cue Theatre's production of The Ladykillers on Saturday night.

I didn't think an amateur dramatic group could possibly do justice to what has been a favourite film of mine for many years - Alexander Mackendrick's 1955 Ealing Comedy The Ladykillers.

How could a group of local actors possibly hope to match the talent of legendary stars such as Alec Guinness or Peter Sellers? Even with a brilliant script thanks to Graham Linehan's adaptation of William Rose's original screenplay, it seems a big ask.

It turns out however, that while Inglewood is nowhere near Ealing geographically speaking, under Joan Ertel's skillful direction the distance doesn't feel that far at all.


The show is packed full of brilliantly timed, comedic performances from an impresively talented cast.

Knowing Gloria Webby was playing the role of Mrs Wilberforce -a sweet, eccentric, and elderly widow, I was curious to see how she would carry it off. While I would not dare argue about Gloria's sweetness, I see her more as a strong and capable woman, not a helpless, doddering older one!

At times on stage, Gloria did seem stronger than I personally had imagined Mrs Wilberforce, but it didn't harm the story. Rather, it gave a new depth to an old, much-loved character and left me wondering - is Mrs Wilberforce really as eccentric as she seems?

Gloria was at her comedic best in the second half of the play, where her character showed more force, especially when arguing with the ragtag bunch of pseudo musicians in her home over what next Friday means.

Her impeccable timing also made for brilliant dialogue between her and Constable MacDonald (Peter Haines) in both acts. Peter's portrayal of the friendly local policeman who is used to wild tales of criminal activity from Mrs Wilberforce is solid, and helps give the plot the background it needs for the rest to be convincing.

John Butler as Professor Marcus is perfectly cast. He gave the character a perfectly balanced mix of charming and sinister, making a brilliant dastardly villian who was great fun to watch.

As a colleague of Bryan Vickery's, I was looking forward to seeing him bring Harry Robinson to life, but was not expecting to quite so blown away by his performance.

As a long-time Peter Sellers fan, I have always had a soft spot for the character of Harry and Bryan made me even fonder of the pill-popping, clean-freak gangster.

Bryan was a pleasure to watch. His incessant dusting and cleaning was simply, yet cleverly, done, giving Harry the depth he needs.

Used as I am to Bryan's Australian twang, I was certainly taken aback to hear a broad cockney accent coming from him, and I was also greatly impressed. All too often, accents can be the Achilles heel of am-dram productions, but thanks to Bryan and Tyler McGlone (Louis Harvey) that was not the case here.

Both carried off their accents brilliantly, and the exhanges between the two of them made for some of the best comedy of the night - listen out for Harry teaching Louis some idioms.

Tyler was perfectly cast as Louis, and made for a convincing Romanian gangster.

Peter Whittaker played the highly strung Major Courtney brilliantly, and despite knowing the story well, he had me mentally cheering him on as he worked to get himself out of the tricky situation he was in.

One-Round, played here by Kevin Koch, was brilliantly done. I would go so far to say he would give Danny Green a run for his money, and he really stole the show in the second half.

Michelle Chainey (Mrs Tromleyton) and her group of ladies threw me a little, as I was expecting more upright and snobby ladies, not the simpering women they became on seeing Louis, Marcus and their cohorts.

I think showing them as bossy, opinionated women would have reminded the audience that Marcus and his gang were true conmen, as they made the women think they were professional musicians.

When it comes to stage and lighting, I was once again impressed with the talent of the backstage crew. It told a story and gave a sense of time and place, with some lovely little moments as a train went past, or we found ourselves looking out onto the rooftops of London suddenly.

Overall, this was a fantastic production of an excellent play. Well worth the trip to Inglewood to watch it.

WIN: The Stratford Press has a double pass to the show for one lucky reader. To be in to win, simply email your name and contact details to editor@stratfordpress.co.nz by Friday noon. The winner will be drawn later that day.