Graham Linehan's The Ladykillers has been a huge success - beginning in Liverpool at the Playhouse, transferring to the West End and now returning to the region on tour - before heading back to London. Five minutes into the production, you can see why people have been laughing up and down the country, as it remains a slick, entertaining and enjoyable night out.
Posing as amateur musicians, Professor Marcus and his gang of fools rent rooms in the lopsided house of a dotty old dear - Mrs Wilberforce. This sweet old lady finds herself involved in this dastardly crime and taking on more than she bargained for. Michele Dotrice is an absolute joy as the trusting widow who finds her house overtaken with musical instruments and the sound of robbery. She imbues the role with sweetness, yet manages to convince you that she is far more wily that she appears.
Paul Brown has a tough act to follow as Peter Capaldi originated the role of Professor Marcus. But he does incredibly well as the crime lord - leading the misfits to face the music. He handles the scene, whereby the troupe play an awful concert for a bunch of old ladies with aplomb. William Troughton has a touch of 'Lee Evans' in his role as Harry Robinson - the unfortunate, nervy 'crim' who cleans when scared. Marcus Taylor also does well filling in for Clive Mantle as Major Courtney - who has his eye on Wilberforce's dresses as well as the cash.
Sean Foley directs at a frenetic pace and manages to make the play entertaining for all ages. It does not appear staid or too cosy and he handles the slapstick elements with ease. Michael Taylor's set design helps, as it is a box of delights - surprising you at every turn.
At times it may appear a tad slight, but for the most part The Ladykillers is an incredibly funny comedy - filled with equal shades of light and shade. Given our current batch of weather, the over whelming sense of warmth will make you forget the snow, wind and rain.
With a second West End transfer confirmed, it would be a crime to miss it in Salford!