The Lavender Hill Mob

"A classic Ealing comedy with great humour and outstanding performances"

Based on the screenplay by T.E.B. Clarke and adapted for the stage by Phil Porter, The Lavender Hill Mob is a classic Ealing comedy packed full of humour, slightly slapstick movements and great characters.

As we take our seat in the auditorium, the stage set by Francis O’Connor is very busy with lots of props on display, most of which are utilised throughout the show.  The main location is ‘The Union Club’ as we open on a New Year’s Eve party in Rio de Janeiro with all characters on stage. 

Miles Jupp in the role of Holland plays the quintessentially British ‘nonentity’ with gusto and with the lion share of the dialogue throughout the play, his timing and delivery is perfect.  You could say that the show is a play within a play as Holland wants to relay his story to a newcomer in the club, Farrow (Guy Burgess), who we later discover is not quite who he is purported to be.  Holland and his friends start to tell the story of how he ended up in Rio de Janeiro all playing multiple roles.

If you have ever watched the 1951 film of the same name, then you will be familiar with the plot, however if you need refreshing then I’ll run through it.  Holland (Miles Jupp) is in charge of the gold bullion deliveries at a London bank.  He meets Pendlebury (Justin Edwards) at their boarding house in Lavender Hill, an artist who is in the business of making souvenirs that are sold in many holiday destinations, including Paris.  They hatch a plan between themselves to steal a large amount of gold bullion with the help of local thieves Lackery (Tessa Churchard) and Shorty (Victoria Blunt).  Their plan works and Pendlebury sets to work melting down the gold, making them into souvenir Eiffel Towers and dispatching them out of the country to Paris so they could collect them at the other end.  However, their plan falls down at this point, as due to an error with translation between Pendlebury and the French shop keeper, some of the Eiffel Towers were sold to six schoolgirls over in Paris on a school trip.  They manage to recover five of the ornaments, however one schoolgirl decides to keep hers and pass it to her Police Officer Uncle.  Pendlebury is captured, but Holland manages to escape with the remaining gold Eiffel Tower to his new home in Rio de Janeiro where he has been living the high life.

Now you’re familiar with the plot, we can talk about the incredibly talented actors on stage throughout the play.  All play multiple roles within Holland’s elaborate story with such ease.  Tessa Churchard and Victoria Blunt show their versatility in their portrayal of Lady Agnes and Audrey respectively; however, they also shine in the various roles they step into.  There is a lot of comedy which is captured perfectly.  Justin Edwards as Pendlebury brings energy to the role, and again the comedic timing is well delivered.

We also meet Farrow (Guy Burgess), Sir Horace (John Dougall), Sammy (Tim Sutton) and Fernanda (Aamira Challenger) who all bring a fantastic performance throughout.  The standout for me being John Dougall in his rather hilarious portrayal as the bank manager, amongst many other characters.

This play is a real ensemble piece, and all actors remain on stage for the full duration of the show.  Movement Director, Alyssa Noble has managed to keep the action on stage fluid and every inch of the stage is used throughout, with many props being picked up and moved around to coincide with the story. 

A classic Ealing comedy with great humour and outstanding performances.

This production was reviewed on the 7th November at Malvern Theatre where it runs until the 12th November.  Tickets are available here: Search by Production: The Lavender Hill Mob (malvern-tickets.co.uk)

Full tour details can be found here: https://lavenderhillmobplay.co.uk/

Written for Box Office Radio

Photo credit: Hugo Glendinning

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