MRS Wilberforce's dilapidated King's Cross house seems the ideal base from which Professor Marcus can commit the perfect crime that will crown his career with riches for himself and his fellow-villains. The house, bordering the main railway, is beset by the clamour of steam trains, noisy internal plumbing. and walls on which pictures never hang straight. General Gordon, Mrs Wilberforce's mangy caged parrot utters frequent raucous screeches that alarm the unwary.

Graham Linehan's delightfully quirky play, set in 1956, over four days in November, is directed by Colin Wilkins. It's another triumph for the Phoenix Players, at the Arts Centre in Old Town, Swindon until January 27.

The two storey set, cleverly adapted to incorporate a slate roof beyond the bedroom, holds promising prospects for the future of Mrs Wilberforce and her parrot, as the size of the gang diminishes. As the unwitting accomplice of a robbery concocted meticulously under cover of string quartet rehearsals, the gentle, law-abiding landlady is scarcely in a position to call the police. She is bemused by the supposed musicians' subsequent cacophony.

Sandra Gilbert is brilliant as the gentle, eccentric Mrs Wilberforce, who suspects that a local newsagent is a former top Nazi. Nicholas Gratton gives a fine performance as the master criminal , whose oddly assorted gang includes Mark Harris as the sinister Romanian, Louis Harvey, Alex Barrett as the former boxer One Round ("I'm Mr Lawson") , Vern Dunkley as Major Courtney , with a penchant for lady's dresses, snd Martin Lawrence as Harry Robinson. Mrs Wilberforce's guests are played by Elly Beint, Jill Beckhelling, Gill Brain, Daphne Breakspear, Lilly Dunkley, Charlotte Phillips and Margaret Price. Chris Coleman is the tolerant Police Constable Macdonald, who drinks tea with Mrs Wilberforce and takes all her wild pronouncements with a pinch of salt!

Stella Taylor