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BLOG: The Ladykillers - By Lisa Wakely

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

The Ladykillers at Frinton Summer Theatre

Fun-filled farce, The Ladykillers, takes centre stage at the McGrigor Hall

as the latest production of the Frinton Summer Theatre 2023

The Ladykillers bring riotous laughs to McGrigor Hall this summer with the stunning production of this timeless farce, running from 1st to 5th August as part of the Frinton Summer Theatre Festival of the Arts.

Once a rip-roaring comedy produced by the historic Ealing Studios starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, The Ladykillers was rewritten for the stage by Graham Linehan (co-writer of Father Ted and Black Books) and, along the way, has become a madcap farce reminiscent of the Marx Brothers at their best.

The story follows a group of bungling ne’er do wells who decide to rob a security van at Kings Cross station. In order to do this with a perfect cover, they decide to disguise themselves as a travelling string quartet in need of rooms to rent at a local boarding house.

The unsuspecting landlady, Mrs Wilberforce, short of cash and long in gossip, happily accommodates them and their cumbersome instruments. But that creates a problem. While plotting the heist, they must inevitably demonstrate their musical prowess, achieved with considerable ingenuity.

As ever, the best-laid plans of mice and men start to unravel in a fast-paced masterpiece of chaos and comedy mayhem. Don’t miss this chance to experience high-octane theatre at its inventive best.

William Rose wrote the screenplay for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won the BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay. He claimed to have dreamt the entire film and merely had to remember the details when he awoke. It also won Best British Actress for Katie Johnson, which made her a star at the grand old age of 76!

The Ladykillers was the last Technicolour three-strip film shot in the UK, and the original camera negative needed to be used for a restoration that will serve as the best version of the film since its original release. The 1955 film marked the end of an era in more ways than one. It wasn’t only the last of the great Ealing comedies but was the final film to be released by Ealing before the studios were sold to the BBC. Michael Balcon led his exhausted team away to live out a sad afterlife in the corner of the MGM lot at Borehamwood.

One of the greatest physical comedy performances in cinema is achieved by Katie Johnson as Mrs Wilberforce, who doesn’t let being someone’s gran stop her from carrying the entire film on her back. Released in an era of polished heist flicks, director Alexander MacKendrick dared to have a different type of take for the time, “What if it’s not the robbers who were cool…but an old lady?” And as cool as Johnson is – not just in the face of mildly hardened criminals, but also to MacKendrick’s technically exacting directorial style. She gives us a masterclass in character acting, drawing on years of experience.

Frinton Summer Theatre’s artistic director, Clive Brill, said: “The Ladykillers promises to be a huge hit as part of the McGrigor Hall season at Frinton Summer Theatre 2023. There is something uniquely special about a classic, comic farce being performed beside the seaside on a warm summer’s evening, and quite simply, The Ladykillers is one of the best.

The Ladykillers at Frinton Summer Theatre

“If you love your theatre to be fast-paced, with a rapier edge to the wit and plenty of visual humour throughout, then The Ladykillers is one not to miss. We can’t wait to share this amazing production with audiences at McGrigor Hall this summer.”

The Ladykillers

The McGrigor Hall, Frinton Summer Theatre - 1st - 5th August

Tues - Sat 7:30pm | Sat 2:30pm

Frinton Summer Theatre Contributor, Lisa Wakely, Writer. Lisa Wakely is a talented writer and performer from Essex. Her passion for writing and teaching performing arts is matched only by her adventurous spirit, which includes heart-pumping activities like skydiving and wing walking - all for raising money for charity. She's a true force to be reckoned with. Her boundless energy and unwavering determination are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

If you liked the sound of The Ladykillers, book Don't Dress for Dinner
Frinton Summer Theatre 2023

If you liked the sound of The Ladykillers, you might want to see Don’t Dress for Dinner, running from Saturday, 15th – 19th August.

Expecting his wife to be away, Bernard has arranged a romantic weekend at his converted farmhouse with his Parisian mistress. As a cover story, he has also invited his best friend. However, what happens when his wife cancels her weekend at short notice?

This is a hilarious comedy not to be missed. Hurry and book your tickets via the link below!

The McGrigor Hall Ticket Prices

Evenings £20-25 | Matinees £18-23

Season Discount - Get 10% off when you book a ticket for each show at The McGrigor Hall.

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