THERE’S an old saying that says if it looks like a turkey, and sounds like a turkey, then it probably is a turkey.

Sadly, the world premiere stage adaptation of the 1951 Ealing Studios classic, The Lavender Hill Mob touring to the Theatre Royal in Bath is a out-of date turkey that was probably best left in the freezer.

This stage adaptation of the film that originally starred Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway, Sid James and Alfie Bass lacks the lustre of T E B Clarke’s comedy classic.

The play tells the story of Henry Holland, an unassuming bowler-hatted and mild-mannered Bank of England clerk who dreams of stealing the van-load of gold bullion he drives across London each day.

When Henry learns that his new lodger Alfred Pendlebury makes Eiffel Tower paperweights out of lead to export to France, he devises a cunning plan to turn his dream into reality.

Based on the much-loved Ealing comedy, The Lavender Hill Mob is adapted for the stage by playwright Phil Porter and directed by Jeremy Sams.

But somehow, it becomes leaden in the telling and the slapstick humour frequently falls flat on its face. Some members of Monday’s audience walked out at the interval.

Holland (Miles Jupp) has reached Rio de Janeiro after smuggling the melted down gold bars across the English Channel to Paris disguised as lead Eiffel Tower paperweights.

His criminal caper is told not as a straight flashback, as in the film, but is strangely re-enacted by his new-found friends in a Brazilian bar on New Year’s Eve.

The result is a cumbersome sequence of scenes bogged down by Porter’s narrative device, with the friends playing the roles of his criminal accomplices as the story is told.

Settings include the boarding house where Holland meets his co-conspirator Pendlebury (Justin Edwards), the London Dockland warehouse where their paperweights are made, the Bank of England, where Holland is given a £2 reward for his bravery in ‘protecting’ the bullion.

Within the colourful Rio club, two sets of steps representing the Eiffel Tower are spun about by the cast as they re-enact the different scenarios of the gang’s escape.

Jupp and Edwards waltz through their performance with a relaxed charm and joviality, but their characters lack the post-war humour portrayed in the film.

There are some excellent supporting performances – most notably from Victoria Blunt as Audrey, Tessa Churchyard as Lady Agnes, Guy Burgess as Farrow and John Dougall as Sir Horace - but the play fails to match the slapstick comedy of the Ealing masterpiece.

The Lavender Hill Mob is visiting the Theatre Royal Bath to Saturday (February 11). Tickets are on sale at the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at