Grads in a comedy killing

May 7 2017 | By More

It’s time for the Ladykillers

When Graham Linehan’s comedy The Ladykillers toured to the King’s in 2012, the set was so convoluted and clever that Æ pictured its design model as the review illustration.

Now Edinburgh’s Grads have their own designs on the play, an adaptation of the 1955 Ealing Studios comedy heist movie in which a criminal gang take over a little old lady’s house thinking they can use it for an HQ.

Model of Michael Taylor’s design for The Ladykillers 2012 tour

As an amateur company – with a four night run at the Assembly Roxy rather than a twenty week tour to work on – the Grads are having another look at the show which was originally conceived for a multi-level, revolving stage, opening the house right out.

In charge of the production is director David Grimes, who has never been afraid of a challenge – whether it was Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Patrick Marber’s Closer. In 2011 he steered the company to the quarter finals of Sky Arts’ reality TV show, Stagestruck.

As for The Ladykillers, Grimes told Æ: “I recall our open-night reading of the script and reading out the words: ‘And the set revolves’ – quickly followed by my own quip: ‘Of course it does!’.

“We knew, if for no other reason than budget, we would never be able to emulate what the original West End production had achieved. Instead, we’ve opted for a more deconstructed feel of the house: We’ve utilised the expanse of the Roxy, putting the audience in the action with rooms both in front of and behind them.

“By using both the permanent stage as well as the ground space, we’ve opened the action up allowing for the scenes to flow between rooms without too many breaks.”

considerable flights of imagination

The production will be lead by Grads veteran Wendy Mathison as the little old lady, Mrs. Wilberforce. She is regularly visited by the local constable, thanks to her considerable flights of imagination which turn the most harmless of overheard gossip into an alien invasion – or worse.

Publicity image for The Ladykillers. Pic: The Grads

Laurence Wareing will be taking on the role of smooth criminal “Professor” Marcus who flutters Mrs Wilberforce’s heart with the thought of a real life string quartet taking out rooms in her house.

It is a big comedy – Linehan created Father Ted, Blackbooks, and The IT Crowd – which combines the possibility of trading in slapstick and sight gags with the prospect of finding humour in the social mores and conventions of London in the 1950s. Something slightly different for the Grads, then.

Grimes is not so sure: “While the Grads have built a reputation for mounting more dramatic, serious productions, I think we have an equally strong footing in comedy.

“Admittedly, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and August: Osage County are considered by reputation to be heavy dramatic works, but a large portion of both of those scripts, and in fact our productions, was heavily rooted in comedy.”

Grimes hasn’t made the mistake of thinking of comedy as a lesser discipline on the stage, however. Although he says he has often been asked when he was going to move on to directing an outright comedy.

“Comedy is hard,” he says. “It requires precision, timing, trust, teamwork and most important, making it all look effortless. Add in the fact that we’ve decided to tackle a well known comedic classic…

“Yeah, we’ve set ourselves a high bar. But I’m confident that the audiences will enjoy our take on the material.”


The Ladykillers
Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU
Wed 10 – Sat 13 May 2017.
Evenings: 7.30pm.

The Grads on Facebook: edingrads

Review of the 2012 touring production of The LadyKillers: ✭✭✭✭✩ Deliciously entertaining


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