“Be nice to people who work in customer service” is just one of the messages in Ladykiller, a very funny and refreshingly offbeat comedy from The Thelmas.
Madeline Gould’s play opens with a dead body and a blood-soaked chambermaid, complete with French maid uniform and a semi-believable alibi. It quickly segues into a monologue on the nature of murder, including giving an informative mini-lecture on different classifications of life-stealers. It’s like an A-level psychology class, if your teacher had a deliciously bad sense of humour.
Hannah McClean gives a sparkling-eyed and generally excellent solo performance. The comic timing is spot on and she delivers the darkest lines with a cat-that-got-the-cream secret grin, while thumb and forefinger play absentmindedly with the red liquid.
If there’s a flaw, it’s that it’s perhaps a teeny bit too long – this would make an excellent 45-minute monologue with the extraneous nods towards a backstory deleted.
Taken at face value Ladykiller is simply very entertaining – especially for those of us who laugh at all the ‘wrong’ things – but it also says a lot about gendered expectations and violence. Women aren’t evil. Apart from when they really, really want to be.