The Lavender Hill Mob. Adapted for the stage by Phil Porter based on the screenplay by T.E.B. Clarke. Richmond Theatre, 1 Little Green, Richmond TW9 to 19 November 2022. 4****. William Russell.

Why anyone should bother to adapt the Ealing Comedy for the stage is one of life’s mysteries but Phil Porter has made a brave stab at doing so and Jeremy Sams, who is a dab hand at directing comedies, keeps the action moving briskly. The audience laugh happily and leave with smiles on their faces so it is a four star evening even if it really is one of those not worth doing affairs. Miles Jupp, a known TV face and a good comic actor, plays Holland, the Alec Guinness part of the obscure Bank of England clerk who masterminds the bullion robbery of the century, and gets good support from the rest of the cast playing multiple roles. There is a clever multipurpose set by Francis O’Connor which even gets the Eiffel Tower on stage for Holland and his confederate, Pendlebury (Justin Edwards) to go up and come down. Jupp is funny, one warms to him, and audience has someone they know to relish seeing in the flesh. The theatre is also comfortable and has decent bars so as a good night out this touring production fills ticks off all the boxes. But the film, one of the jewels in Ealing’s crown, is still available to watch. The story is told by Holland at a New Year’s Eve party in Rio in 1950 attended by various friends to the man accompanying him who is mistaken for a visiting film director. The friends then play the various characters in his story which works pretty well although the first act climax is a bit odd. No spoilers.

Holland: Miles Jupp.

Pendelbury/Ambassador: Justin Edwards.

Farrow: Guy Burgess.

Lady Agnes: Tessa Chuchard.

Sir Horace: John Dougall.

Audrey: Victoria Blunt.

Sammy: Tim Sutton.

Fernanda: Aamira Challender

Director: Jeremy Sams.

Set & Costume Design: Francis O’Connor.

Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson.

Sound Designer: Fergus O’Hare.

Movement Director: Alyssa Noble.

Illusions & Music: Tim Sutton.

Fight Director: Bethan Clark.

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