The Lavender Hill Mob ★★★★ Richmond Theatre | November 14 - 19, 2022

It is no small challenge to bring one of Britain's best-loved Ealing Studio comedies to the stage. The original is imprinted on the minds of a generation of filmgoers, as are the performances of its incomparable cast. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the theatrical version of this caper classic starring Miles Jupp as Holland, the anonymous bank employee who masterminds a gold heist from the Bank of England. The chemistry between Jupp and Justin Edwards who plays Holland's accomplice, Pendlebury is perfect. The rest of the cast are equally adept in their roles as partygoers who take on various roles to act out Holland's criminal coup. They all manage to capture the whimsical spirit of the piece while never falling into the farcical or the cloying. This is not an easy line to walk. There is a simplicity and innocence about this type of comedy that is not easy to reproduce, and it is often incomprehensible to generations reared on the harsher, almost brutal, humour that is favoured today. We completely enjoyed the silly scenes of our two scoundrels dealing with stereotypical French customs officials and also appreciated the foolishness of the ongoing seagull gag. Jeremy Sams' direction does a fine job of creating the tone and atmosphere of this gentle comedy from a bygone era, and set and costume designer, Francis O'Connor, wisely does not attempt to create the film images. Her staging with its staircase Eiffel Tower is both economical and clever. This stage adaptation of The Lavender Hill Mob is a charming homage to the original film. For a trip down memory lane or some refuge in a simpler time, one need look no further than this amusing and endearing production.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

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