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Paul Andrew Williams
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The Comedy Showcase season on Channel 4 has produced some weak films but also some perfectly enjoyable and entertaining one-off films. "Ladies and Gentlemen" is one of the latter and was effortlessly fun to watch just as it was fleeting in the memory. The story revolves around the rather self-centred ladies and gentlemen living in a Victorian house with their maids and money looking after them and not really anything to be that concerned about in the world. The script does a good job of observing this nonsense and exaggerating it just enough to be really rather funny.
Horatio is a useless fop of a man while Jack worries that he will never find love and takes even the news of women he has never met becoming engaged as a personal slight. Similarly the rest of the group have little time for much outside their own room, taking even news of a dead maid with little more than bemusement that it should happen to them. The central joke is quite thin in theory but the script wears it well and makes it last to the end with a nice sense of the absurd and awkwardness of life within this period. If it plays a little bit like a Victorian Peep Show then that is perhaps understandable since it was from the writers of that show and benefits from their observational wit.
The cast make it though because their delivery is spot on. Boyd is the most fun and I enjoyed seeing him since I only really know him from his recent turn in Saxondale. Buxton is fun and indeed performances from Shearsmith, Cavailero and others all make the film feel of the period but yet also very modern and silly. The direction from Martin and Bowker suits the material as well and overall it is a wonderfully silly little comedy that both hits and subverts the costume genre at the same time.
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