🎭 The Lavender Hill Mob
📍 Richmond Theatre
🎫 PR invite
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Coined as one of the ‘greatest British comedy films’, The Lavender Hill Mob headed to Richmond Theatre for an all-new stage adaption.

Olivier-nominated playwright Phil Porter adapted the Ealing comedy classic, alongside Tony and Olivier-nominated director, Jeremy Sams.

The funny, fast-paced comedy tells the story of Henry Holland, an ordinary bank clerk who dreams of stealing the van of gold bullion he drives daily across London. Upon discovering that his new lodger is making Eiffel Tower paperweights out of lead, Henry devises a plan to make his dream a reality. It’s a golden opportunity for a crime of the century!

The show begins at a New Year’s Eve party in Rio, as party guests and staff prepare for the countdown. The guests are paid a visit from Farrow (Guy Burgess) a ‘film director’ and relish the opportunity to re-enact the infamous ‘Lavender Hill Heist’ for him.

Actor and comedian, Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards play Henry Holland and Pendlebury, the unsuspecting criminal duo. With Pendlebury’s skills in moulding Eiffel Tower and a comical ‘gang recruitment’, Holland’s plan to steal the gold is underway. Though the characters remain in Rio, their storytelling transports us to 1950s London, Dover, and parts of France.

Photo by Hugo Glendinning

The rest of the multitalented cast (Tessa Churchard, John Dougall, Victoria Blunt, Tim Sutton, and Aamira Challenger) were onstage for the entirety of the play, switching between various characters. The play may be a chaotic heist, with the cast constantly sprinting around the stage, but the staging and direction were executed so well that their moves appeared seamless.

Mark Henderson, the recipient of multiple Oliver Awards, did some incredible work with the lighting design. For instance, the cascading orange lights whenever the gold bullion appeared were genius as were the timing of the lights during significant moments. I admired Francis O’Connor’s simple staging and the use of props to accompany the story. Silver trays as steering wheels and palm trees to replicate the Eiffel Tower.

Photo by Hugo Glendinning

There were a few inside jokes that I was not familiar with as I had not watched the film. Act two was stronger; the comedy picked up and we were introduced to further multi-roleplaying. From French taxi drivers to school children to police officers – and a lot more silver-tray steering wheeled car chases! As a result, the play became fast-paced yet we never lost track of the story. Jupps and Edwards perform well as our criminal double act. The whole cast has an amazing stage presence, each shining in their roles. I enjoyed the delivery of the jokes and puns, particularly Sir Horace (Dougall) who had such natural humour.

My favourite scene was the amusing pursuit across London. As our delinquent duo race across the capital, the supporting characters hilariously recreate moments in history and reference iconic landmarks – one reference had the audience howling from laughter. In addition, the video projection with a moving map of London was a nice touch.

Guy Burgess (Farrow) and Miles Jupp (Henry Holland)
Photo by Hugo Glendinning

This stage play was strong in its delivery and interpretation, bringing the story to life. With intricate details, from the way the lighting shone on the cast to how the music aligned with the animated steps – I loved it!

The Lavender Hill Mob is a fun comedy play suitable for all ages and even those who may not be familiar with the original film. The cast performs flawlessly, with great comedic timing and a ton of puns!  

You can catch this play at Richmond Theatre until Saturday 19th November before it continues its tour! Tickets are available here.