New production for Graffham Rustics

Graffham Rustics
Graffham Rustics

IN the quiet rural village of Graffham, a sweet little old lady is pitting her wits against a desperate gang of criminal misfits.

It’s the latest production from the Graffham Rustics who are busy putting the final touches to a bit of 1950s Kings Cross at the Empire Hall in the village for their version of the classic Ealing comedy, The Ladykillers.

Based on the well-known film of the 1950s starring Alec Guinness and featuring a very young Peter Sellers, The Ladykillers stage play was written by Graham Linehan, who also wrote Father Ted and The IT Crowd.

It tells the classic black comedy tale of a sweet little old lady, alone in her house, pitted against a gang of criminal misfits who will stop at nothing.

Posing as amateur musicians, Professor Marcus and his gang rent rooms in the lopsided house of sweet but strict Mrs Wilberforce.

The villains plot to involve her unwittingly in Marcus’ brilliantly conceived heist job. The police are left stumped, but Mrs Wilberforce becomes wise to their ruse and Marcus concludes there is only one way to keep the old lady quiet.

With only her parrot, General Gordon, to help her, Mrs W is alone with five desperate men.

Released at the end of November for amateur performance, the Rustics swiftly secured a performing licence for this West End smash hit.

The stage play is even funnier than the film, but for devotees of the original, this is a great tribute and they will not be disappointed.

Following the success of Entertaining Angels last year, Mandy Carr has been asked to direct again.

The lead roles of Mrs Wilberforce and Professor Marcus are being played by Celia Lilly and newcomer to the Rustics, Simon Worte.

The villains are Mike Crickmay, Ollie Boulton, Neil Castle and Richard Smith.

Supporting parts are played by Susan Tink, Philip Trower and a special guest appearance from Suki St Ann in a most unusual role.

A stunning set recreating the atmosphere of the classic film, complete with staircase and two levels, has been designed by Neil Castle and built by Martin and Heather West with the help of their daughters Lucy and Dawn, who both appear as extras.

Performances are on May 15, 16, 17 at The Empire Hall. There is a licensed bar and all seating is unreserved.

Tickets at £9 are available from the village shop, and Bay Tree Bakery, Golden Square, Petworth, online at

Telephone bookings on 01798 344227.