Tenacity, determination and the ability to pick oneself up from a fall. These are the kinds of skills needed to survive the Fringe (gin also helps). Rolling in the Aisle Productions proves that they have the first two in one of their debut Fringe shows, an adaptation of The Ladykillers by Graham Linehan. Known mostly for sitcoms Black Books and Father Ted, Linehan has tweaked the script to the original only slightly to adapt it for the stage.
Two words: projection and subtlety. These are also the two missing techniques which Rolling in the Aisle needs to tie together quickly. The humour from Linehan’s script is clear in some performers, murkier in others. Anyone who is familiar with the original film, or the less than sublime Tom Hanks remake, knows how quintessentially slapstick and British the humour is. Rolling in the Aisle’s production keeps this Carry On-esque style of humour, with Ben Welham’s Major being an absolute standout.
Set design is simple but effective. Several seats, a bed and a door frame are enough to immerse the audience. Any real issues with the production come down to a few directorial issues with casting. Noticeable talent though can be spotted in the performances of Major, Harry and The Professor.
Regretfully, some members just can’t quite hold the stage as well as others, particularly the portrayals of Louis and Mrs Wilberforce. Neither actress can manifest the subtlety of the script; hammed to the extreme. With age in the theatre, many find the need to hush their elderly character’s voice. This cannot happen in shows such as this. Mrs Wilderforce should be a cunning force of nature, doubted by everyone, but strong in herself.
With two shows running, Rolling in the Aisle have clearly worked bloody hard to make it to the Fringe. Any small scale team which can manage the task of producing two full shows deserves praise. Almost there, The Ladykillers by Graham Linehan needs tightened. Some reworking done with issues of blocking, staging and vocal projection, the venue isn’t the largest but the cast need to work on making clear annunciation to the back of the room. It’s an able (if wobbly) first step for the production company’s first outing on the Fringe.