Event review: ‘The Ladykillers’ by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon

By - Friday 15th April, 2016

A mis-timed sound effect caused chuckles, says Andy Ellis, but a great time was had by audience and cast alike

Photo by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon, used with permission.

I had never seen nor read The Ladykillers, a stage adaptation by Grahame Linehan of the Ealing comedy of the same name, and so entered Coulsdon Community Centre with no idea of plot or even of genre. I wasn’t even quite sure how to get there: the council signpost to the centre is some ten yards west of the entrance so motorists can easily overshoot the turning. There’s plenty of parking at the back of the centre, Woodmansterne train station is about ten minutes walk away and buses 166 and 434 stop outside.

After collecting tickets from a cheery and well-organised box office, we were politely directed us to the rather attractive auditorium. The community centre was built in the 1930s and retains much of its charming period decor. Coffee and tea were available, as were beer, cider and wine at very reasonable prices from the makeshift bar. All of the ushers and catering staff were friendly and helpful.

The one-liners got funnier and funnier as the play progressed

The play opens with one of the main protagonists, Mrs. Wilberforce, played by Sheila Bird, who gave a delightful and consistent performance through the whole play. Then the first half ran at a steady pace with, in particular, sterling deliveries from Bruce Montgomery as Professor Marcus and Paul Ford as the major. The one-liners from Mr Lawson (Richard Lloyd) got funnier and funnier as the play progressed.

Photo by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon, used with permission.

The last scene before the interval involves an impromptu concert. The ‘ladies’ who form its audience hammed things up wonderfully, with one of their number, Mrs Tromleyton (played by Penny Byne), stealing the closing seconds. The second half was more pedestrian but this, I suspect, was due to the plot rather than the production or cast. Humour and suspense were maintained right up until the end. There was real enthusiasm and competence from a script-perfect cast of actors who were obviously enjoying themselves. Naturally there were a couple of mishaps including a mistimed entry (remedied by quick improvisation) and a late sound effect which evoked a few unplanned chuckles. The set was beautifully designed, props were just right and sound effects hit the spot.

In conclusion: you could battle your way into the West End but why do so when dramatic delights like this are right on Croydon’s doorstep? I shall be looking out for future productions by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon.

Your next chance to catch Theatre Workshop Coulsdon in action will be out-of-doors, at their summer performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s on in the grounds of Coulsdon Manor Hotel from Wednesday 27th July until Saturday 6th August.  To book tickets or call 07709 266728.

Andy Ellis

Andy Ellis

Descendant of an old Devonshire family, Andy has spent over 25 years of his life in Croydon. He runs a small computer business, is a student at Seishin Ryu Aikido, helps to teach the Body Harmony community fitness classes held in several libraries across the town and, last but not least, dances with the Purley-based North Wood Morris Men.

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