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The Lavender Hill Mob- play review

★★★★


Acclaimed to be one of the greatest British Films of all time, The Lavender Hill Mob is currently touring with Miles Jupp playing the lead role, Holland, having had a vast and successful career spanning several areas of the arts industry. Similarly, Justin Edwards takes on the part of his criminal companion, Pendlebury, as the pair plot to be swimming in riches when a golden opportunity arises. However, their wild and ambitious plans were not proven to be faultless.


Set at a New Year party- 1949 becoming '50, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- a throng of guests are enjoying the night when a suspected film director is brought to their attention. As a result, they are all keen to join in sharing the adventures that got underway when Holland collated a crew to attempt stealing the van full of gold bullion that he had become accustomed to delivering across the streets of London while working for the bank, with the hope of fortune without being branded fools. When he discovers the new lodger turns lead into Eiffel Tower paperweights, everything seems to begin falling into place...


Reenacting the shenanigans, each friend takes on a role, so the performance is one within the overarcing plot. They therefore turn the club in which they reside into a wide multitude of locations from the bank, to the van hurtling through town; Dover to Paris, creatively transporting the audience alongside, despite keeping the props to whatever could be found at the party. With set designed by Francis O'Connor (also on costume), it is immediately intriguing, and proves a lot can be made from a little. The general concept in conjunction with the comedic elements and character changes means the piece could've easily fallen into being a parody, however clever adaptation by Phil Porter and direction from Jeremy Sams has developed staging that remains both entertaining and fast paced throughout.


While the first act is primarily establishing the roles and set up for the storyline, it therefore lacks a few laughs where the quick wit of the script could've been more advantageous. Despite this, the second comes back seeming more relaxed- punchier and funnier in several aspects, though the performance as a whole was commendable from all. Surprisingly with so much detail in the performance, it was easy to follow and an enjoyable watch. One of the notably skilled performers at conducting the smooth transitions between characters is Victoria Blunt who does this seamlessly, though each member of the cast demonstrate professionalism and expertise across the board: Miles Jupp certainly does a brilliant job of embodying Holland, beside Guy Burgess as Farrow and Tessa Churchyard as Lady Agnes (and others).


Overall, The Lavender Hill Mob is not actually far from touring production perfection. Its ingenious storytelling and characterisation combination, with a fantastic cast and numerous laughs, this show makes for a great, unique and memorable night out.



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