In these taxing times a good belly laugh is better than money in the bank. Spend an evening in the company of Professor Marcus and his hapless robbers and you come away rich with comic treasure.
Chris McCalphy, William Troughton, Shaun Williamson, Michele Dotrice, Clive Mantle and Paul Bown in The Ladykillers at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth Photo: Dan Tsantilis
This electrifying entertainment written by Graham Linehan revisits and revitalises the famous 1955 Ealing comedy - transferring it from film to 21st century stage in a production that grips with inventive mayhem from start to finish.
Michele Dotrice delivers the role of Mrs Wilberforce in beautifully etched bemusement as unwitting host to a gang of robbers. Initially oblivious to the fact they were not the musicians they claimed to be but something more sinister, her subsequent realisation was hilarious - especially when informed she was an accessory.
Paul Bown as Professor Marcus is the urbane brain behind the planned heist. Working with a motley team of Major Courtney (Clive Mantle) of nervous disposition with a suppressed fetish for ladies dresses, pill-popping young spiv Harry (William Troughton), mentally challenged former pugilist One-Round (Chris McCalphy) and Romanian psychopath Louis (Shaun Williamson), his burden of command unleashed a bounty of laughs.
By the time the gang implodes and the plot turns darker we have travelled a switchback from slapstick to thriller with a mounting body count - all delivered under the banner of black comedy.
Even before the fine cast have uttered a line, the higgledy-piggledy house interior, created by set designer Michael Taylor, and superb special effects of Scott Penrose, are a priceless boon to the production.
Furniture slides about and lights flicker as the rickety red-brick residence rattles with subsidence when trains pass. A surreal touch was the robbery portrayed by toy cars with headlights, driving across the stage - and up the exterior wall of the house.
Entertaining, inventive and excellent, you could not wish for a more hilarious night out.