Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Reviewed – 5th July 2017
” a group of criminals who don’t know their Mozart from their Messiaen …”
When the seemingly innocent Professor Marcus, with a passion for classical music, comes knocking at the door of Mrs. Wilberforce’s home, the kind old lady is delighted to let her spare room out to this charming character . . .
Little does she know that her new tenant is also part of an amateur Musical ensemble, or shall we say a group of criminals who don’t know their Mozart from their Messiaen, intending to use her home for their plotting and planning.
In this black comedy, originally a 1955 film made by Ealing Studios, the sweet old lady Mrs. Wilberforce has a lot of time on her hands and often reverts to her wild imagination, inventing bizarre speculations and subsequently entertaining the local police officers with her stories.
How ironic when suddenly she has become involved with a group of criminals – will the police believe her this time?
The quintet of criminals are a delightful contrast to one another, with Professor Marcus being the well spoken conductor and mastermind of the group. On first and second violin we have Louis the no nonsense hit man and Harry, the young and clumsy one. On Viola, The Major, who is a bit of a nervous wreck and enjoys wearing women’s clothes, lastly on cello there is the moronic yet loveable One Round who may turn out to have a heart of gold, but just isn’t ‘all there’.
With this group of virtuosos, what could possibly go wrong?
Alison Liney portrays the perfect mix of the innocent, harmless yet opinionated and fiesty Mrs. Wilberforce – you wouldn’t want to cross her! Whilst Ed Malcolmson brings the character of Professor Marcus to life with over the top charm, graces and a terribly prim and proper accent.
The set, designed by Michael Bettell, Jude Chalk and Bernard Brennan instantly transports the audience back to their own grandmother’s living room – expertly combining a classic floral pattern with military photographs and of course, a good tea cosy.
Lynda Twidale has got it spot on with costume in this production – the ‘band’its look right at home both as musicians off duty or under cover gangsters.
Further highlights from this performance include an impromptu concert for some of Mrs. Wilberforce’s elderly friends (think scratchy strings, atonal madness and somewhat ‘expressive’ playing), a delightful display of femininity from The Major once he discovers Mrs. Wilberforce’s favourite yellow dress and the timely chirpings of General Gordon, Mrs. Wilberforce’s parrot.
What will be in store for the final movement?
Reviewed by Stephanie Legg
Photography by David Sprecher
is at Upstairs at The Gatehouse until 15th July