A new West End production of black comedy The Ladykillers starring Ralf Little and Simon Day has raised a laugh among U.K. theatre critics after opening in the British capital this week (beg08Jul13). The Royle Family star Little, Gregory's Girl actor John Gordon Sinclair and Shakespeare in Love's Day are among the ensemble cast in the new show which also includes theatre veterans Con O'Neill, Chris McCalphy and Angela Thorne.
The play, about a group of criminals who pose as amateur musicians to take a room in the house of an eccentric old lady, opened at London's Vaudeville Theatre on Tuesday (09Jul13) and it convinced even the toughest critics to crack a smile.
Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph insists the new production, adapted for the stage by Father Ted writer Graham Linehan, is "even funnier" than the original 1955 movie on which it is based.
He writes, "The great thing about the film is that it is at times genuinely chilling as well as hilarious... (This) hugely enjoyable stage production... never quite matches the creepiness of the original. I would venture to suggest, however, that it is even funnier than the movie."
The Guardian's Michael Billington praises the show's move into "slapstick" comedy, while Mark Shenton of industry publication The Stage describes the production as a "giddy summer delight that provides plenty of good reasons for theatregoers to go indoors again" and he also praises the "stellar cast" and "infinite skills" of the actors.
The opening night audience was packed full of famous faces including actress Sheridan Smith and Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones, who turned out to support his mother Angela Thorne, as well as comedienne Victoria Wood and Simon Day's The Fast Show co-star Paul Whitehouse.
S3E8: About a third of the way into this week’s Modern Family, something interesting happens. The mood shifts a bit. The writers seem to decide, “Let’s take this a little bit further.” Things get a little sillier than usual—a little wackier. And, right around the montage of scenes of Phil coyly reminding Jay about how he fixed his printer last season, the laughter begins. This week’s Modern Family, entitled “After the Fire,” deals with the family’s collective attempts to help a local family after their house has burned down. Now, this seems like it might be a more severe episode than most. Even though the tragedy does not directly affect the central characters, it’s not farfetched to assume that it will make them take stock of their own values, or appreciate the omnipresence of death and danger. But…these are not routes the episode takes. Instead, the most “biting” conflicts are Claire’s oedipal jealousy of Mitchell’s friendship with Gloria, or Cam’s ceaseless endeavors to prove himself manly. Missed opportunity? Sure, you could call it that. But I’d rather you didn’t. Because this episode has got to be the absolute funniest—and I mean consistently laugh-out-loud-funniest—episode of Modern Family all season.
“Let me transport you to a land I call Relaxistan.” – Phil
As usual, Phil is the episode’s comedic hero. When Jay hurts his back carrying boxes, Phil—who we find out this week is a licensed massage therapist (that’s probably the most in-character out-of-left-field ret-con that I’ve ever heard of)—insists that Jay let him work on his back. Obviously, Jay is reluctant, knowing full well how desperate Phil is for his approval. But he eventually agrees, and realizes soon just how talented Phil is. Jay is so relaxed that he even inadvertently lets out an “I love you” to Phil. Unbeknownst to Jay, Phil is too preoccupied by a text message he receives from two ex-coworkers who have decided to form their own real estate agency and want Phil to join them as a partner. Jay is overwrought with stress throughout the episode over the idea that he accidentally told Phil he loved him, and Phil is worked up himself over the big decision of whether or not to stay at his company or take this new opportunity. Phil cites his poor decisions of past, and there is a flashback to Phil bringing home “the last alpaca.” This is right about where the laughter escalates to the “hysterical” territory. The end of the episode sees the sweetest Jay-Phil moment yet, mostly because Jay is actually openly affectionate to his son-in-law (and Phil keeps his composure). Jay tells Phil how good a salesman he is and how he is worthy of gambling on, which encourages Phil to take the new opportunity. And of course, where would a massage storyline be without a “happy endings” joke? Classy, Modern Family. And nice shout-out to your follow-up.
“That question…it was like a hate-crime.” – Cam
Despite my love of this week’s episode, my regular Cam problems remain: he’s not the same character he was at the start of the series, and his original incarnation was one I preferred. Cam used to be confident and secure in both his masculinity and his femininity—now, he’s desperately trying to assuage his insecurities, and often at the expense of a familial compassion that once made him so great and strong. Cam wants to prove to his family, specifically his two nieces who are along for the ride, that a gay man can drive a truck. Unfortunately, Cam is not as good at trucking as he thought, and he gets Jay’s company’s truck stuck in a parking lot. His company, Haley and Alex, are in their own fight about the latter’s wardrobe. Haley wants Alex to dress more femininely and less “nerdily,” while Alex is happy with the way she presents herself. Of course, “Be Yourself” always works out on TV (as it should—yes, I’m a Little Monster), and Alex eventually gets to prove how embracing her bookish side pays off…
“If we don’t find this helicopter, I’m walking to Canada.” – Manny
“Hope you like taxes.” – Luke
Manny plus Luke equals television gold. Now, I love Luke’s partnership with Phil as much as anybody else. But the more I see the odd couple of poor, world-weary Manny and the blissfully quixotic Luke, the more I celebrate the pairing. This week, Manny and Luke lose a helicopter that was meant for the son of the couple whose house burned down (Luke convinces the reluctant Manny that the two should “embrace life” and play with it in an inspiring scene). A trio of older nerds comes across the helicopter and won’t let the duo have it back, but a nearby Alex springs into action—apparently, she’s quite the icon among the nerd population at their high school—and gets the helicopter back in an instant from the enamored bullies, telling her shocked sister, “You have your fans, I have mine…and someday, your fans are going to work for my fans.” It’s an empowering moment for girls, nerds and younger siblings. Go Team Alex.
“I think it’s sweet. We’ve all got our thing—you have mommy issues.” – Claire
This is a storyline that I actually think deserves some more exploration. Claire is jealous when she realizes that Mitchell and Gloria are close because it reminds her of their childhood, when Mitchell would get along with their mother and Claire would retire to the company of Jay. She is jealous to lose Mitchell to Gloria, and to be again the “second favorite” (which Gloria eventually confirms that she definitely is). I do like that the conflict is never “comfortably” resolved. Claire and Gloria can’t logically be real friends; an animosity will always exist between them. But, they remain family members—and just like in real families, sometimes, there are two people who don’t particularly like, but still kind of love, each other.
As said, this is definitely the funniest Modern Family in quite some time. It treads the bounds of wackiness: Phil donning his masseuse persona, Cam dressing up as a clown after overmedicating, Alex intimidating three lovestruck geeks, the Manny/Luke combo, and, again, an alpaca. The show really lets loose this week and seems to just have fun with its characters, without sacrificing real stories (Jay/Phil and Claire/Mitchell/Gloria have a lot of value). So let’s hope there’s more of this in weeks to come!
The Little Britain funnyman was devastated by the shock suicide of his former partner Kevin McGee, who was found hanged at his apartment in Edinburgh, Scotland last month (Oct09).
Devastated Lucas pulled out of his lead role as he continued to grieve, and producers replaced him with actor Con O'Neill - but the show is to end three weeks early after a slump in ticket sales.
The producers said in a statement, "Despite very good feedback and notices for Con O'Neill's performance, the box office sales have not been sufficient to keep the show going."
The last show will be performed on 15 November (09).
The Little Britain funnyman was devastated by the shock death of his former partner Kevin McGee, who was found hanged at his apartment in Edinburgh, Scotland last week (05Oct09).
Lucas was too upset to face performing in the production in the subsequent days - and show bosses have now confirmed he will not return to the role.
His part as Keith Halliwell in the play will be taken over by actor Con O'Neill.
A statement from show producers reads, "Given the sad news that Matt Lucas has recently received, and the role he was playing, it is understandable that he could not return to play Halliwell at this time and our thoughts are with him.
"Ongoing support for our production from audiences at the Comedy Theatre over the past week has been wonderful and given the huge investment from our cast, director, writer and production team, we are delighted that the brilliant Con O'Neill is joining our company so that the show that we are so proud of can complete its West End run."
Lucas and McGee married in a lavish ceremony in 2006, only to divorce earlier this year (09).
Hardened by years of brutal but loyal military service special ops officer Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) is assigned to find the president's apparently kidnapped daughter Laura Newton (Kristen Bell). Pairing up with his protégé Curtis (Derek Luke) Scott works diligently with a task force of presidential advisors the Secret Service the FBI and the CIA to find her and through their investigation they stumble upon a white slavery ring in the Middle East which may--or may not--have some connection to Laura's disappearance. The straightforward search-and-rescue mission is soon bogged down in political machinations and the girl's abduction starts to look even more suspicious than it did at first. In fact the mission comes to an abrupt halt altogether when the girl is supposedly found drowned from a boating accident. Scott returns to his quiet life until Curtis shows up and proves that Laura is still alive and most likely trapped in the white slavery ring. In a race against time Scott and Curtis embark on their own unofficial rescue mission--and put themselves at the center of a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the U.S. government.
Val Kilmer probably won't be joining Mamet's dedicated circle of players--which includes Joe Mantegna William H. Macy and Mamet's wife actress Rebecca Pidgeon--any time soon. While it's clear Kilmer took the role to work with the talented writer/director he isn't well suited to deliver "Mamet-speak"--the rapid fire delivery of terse dialogue the writer is known for--and Kilmer looks uncomfortable trying to do it. The gifted actor who can't help but bring in his own quirky sensibilities to the part still hits the nail on the head as steely resolute Scott. But the minute he starts dispensing sage advice--Mamet-style--Kilmer sticks out like a sore thumb. Same goes for Luke (Antwone Fisher) who is entirely miscast as Scott's sidekick. Others in the ensemble however handle the Mamet chores more adeptly including Macy and Ed O'Neill (yes the guy from TV's Married ... With Children) as presidential aides.
Spartan's real problem however is that it's a thriller without much thrill. Mamet's expertise is in creating scenarios within a microcosm whether it's a world of con artists (House of Games; The Spanish Prisoner) salesmen (Glengarry Glen Ross) or even showbiz (State and Main). These Mamet films are even-keeled--almost devoid of emotion. He sets up characters and actions relevant to that particular world so when characters spout lines in Mamet's distinctive style it comes off as perfectly natural. Yet with Spartan Mamet is tackling a bigger grander picture and when his style is applied to the world as a whole it doesn't work. Plus in the thriller genre the audience needs to feel invested in the characters and Mamet's distant unemotional style doesn't lend itself to sending the audience's collective hearts racing. The only poignant moment in the film belongs to Bell as the wounded daughter who just wants a little attention from Daddy and the only truly exciting moments are during her rescue. That said however Spartan proves Mamet still knows how to craft a story. Although the script is at times vague and convoluted it thankfully never falls into any of the genre's usual patterns and it throws in enough twists to keep you on your toes.