The Lavender Hill Mob

The Lavender Hill Mob

The fashion for taking a popular period piece of cinema and turning it to a stage drama remains popular. Brief Encounter and The 39 Steps fine examples of the genre, so it comes as no surprise that someone has bitten into this classic Ealing comedy. But have they pulled it off? Well in part yes,this production is something of a curate’s egg. The cast do a pretty decent of delivering the story, depicted in hindsight by Holland’s Rio chums, the clipped tones and manners of the period are all there. And Miles Jupp captures Holland’s word weary disappointment with his lot with style as does Justin Edwards as he morphs from the British Ambassador to accomplice in crime Pendlebury, and for the most part the cast look good although in some of the supporting roles the wearing of stylish evening wear somewhat hampers characterisation.

At the heart of my disappointment is a set that certainly has its moments, but for the most part, using as it does an array of clutter, succeeds only in looking cluttered and the projections, meant to give a sense of place, are lost amongst it all. It’s odd that so much “stuff’ ends up looking very flat. That said the transformation of a pair of palm to trees into the Eiffel Tower is extremely good and for the first time in the whole, the dependence on a style of physical theatre is successful. That dependence on the conventions of physical theatre however for the most part are disappointing, perhaps again lost against the clutter and rather drab lighting. I constantly felt that cast were being let down in their efforts to tell the story by some dull and uninventive staging. There were also some points of detail that for, shall we say the mature members of the audience, grated. I am pretty confident that ten bob notes were never green but usually a brownish red, correct me please if I am wrong. So dishing out what looked like dollar bills seemed shabby.

All this said the evening is fun and Jupp and Edwards capture the whole well, and the tale of feeling an insignificant part of society has a contemporary poignancy too.

Andrew Kay

Theatre Royal Brighton

21 November

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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