BURNESIDE Amateur Theatrical Society's three-night run of The Ladykillers comic caper was a BATS belter, writes ADRIAN MULLEN

Graham Linehan's stage adaptation based on the Ealing comedy film was the perfect vehicle for BATS allowing the cast to up their game and provide innovative director Gordon Lawson and crew the platform to work their magic and create a superb set that practically took on a role of its own.

The story revolves around Professor Marcus and his gang, who, all posing as amateur string musicians, rent rooms in the lopsided house of Mrs Wilberforce. The villains plot to involve her, unwittingly, in a security van robbery conceived by Marcus.

Once the deed is done the stolen money from the raid ends up via Mrs Wilberforce - unbeknown to her of course - in her own house.

As for the whereabouts of the stashed cash, the police are at a loss. However, Mrs Wilberforce isn't and becomes wise to the gang's ruse. As the plan unravels, Marcus decides that there is only one way to keep the old lady quiet.

One by one though instead of Mrs W, the five dastardly dudes meet their own sticky end - mainly through the window of the house which is above a railway line - leaving Mrs Wilberforce and her parrot General Gordon with the spoils.

It was probably the most professional performance from an amateur cast I think I've seen for many a moon.

Wayne Bartholomew played unsuspecting Constable Macdonald; Adam Carruthers was in the spotlight as dark and dangerous Louis; Phil Davies took the role of cheeky spiv Harry Robinson; Richard Warburton played brilliantly bumbling One Round and Martin Cash, who, for me, gave his best BATS performance yet as hilarious gentleman conman Major Courtney.

Rita Brown was fantastic as the adorable Mrs Wilberforce who rattled around in her lopsided house next to the railway and what can you say about Duncan Cramphorn? who played Professor Marcus, leader of the criminal quintet. The Professor's flamboyant charm and silky sophistication cloaked his sinister side and playing the orchestrator of the hilarious heist, Duncan produced a superb performance that Alec Guinness, who starred in the original Ealing film, would have been chuffed with. He really was that good!

Although only briefly in the spotlight, Jackie O'Sullivan delightfully delivered as one of Mrs Wilberforce's group of friends, who in one of the play's best scenes were all literally strung along and taken in wonderfully by the best described as 'experimental' music performed by Marcus' miscreant musicians while he waved his arms with great gusto pretending to conduct.

All in all, a marvellous performance. Not a fluffed word, unfortunate utterance or awkward pause.

Very funny and totally convincing in every department.