Following on the back of their phenomenal successes The Play that Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Mischief Theatre Company will be taking their current West End smash, A Comedy About a Bank Robbery on tour later this year. Grabbing the opportunity to see it at the beautiful Criterion Theatre before it heads out round the UK, we were treated to one of the funniest plays on stage, ever.
More of a story than the madcap parodies their previous productions have been, Bank Robbery is set in 50’s Minneapolis and charts the exploits of a wannabee crime ‘lord’ and his attempt to steal a priceless diamond from the local bank. Aided by the bank manager’s daughter, a petty pick pocket and some rogue prison guards and chased by an FBI agent with dubious intent and the bank secretary, the story twists and turns at such a pace that you need the interval just to grab a breath and stop your head from spinning. Directed by original Mischief member Nancy Zamit (who fans will remember from the previous productions) and Mark Bell (whose credit listings deserve their own page in the programme) Bank Robbery is a modern day classic, laugh out loud and don’t care who hears you evening of unashamed fun.
The puns come so fast, right from the off, that it takes a few minutes just to get your brain into gear to keep up but once you’re up to speed it’s hold on tight for a rollercoaster ride. Les Dawson used to pretend he was a terrible piano player but he was able to make it funny because he was actually a brilliant pianist; this cast make the apparent tomfoolery look effortlessly hilarious because they too are masters in their craft. Familiar faces of Chris Leask (hilariously cast as Everybody Else), Jenna Augen (the sassy Ruth Monaghan) and Leonard Cook (Robin Freeboys) are joined by West debutantes brilliant Samson Ajewole (Neil Cooper), livewire Sam Fogell (Sam Monaghan) and the wonderful Holly Sumpton (Caprice Freeboys) and show that the draw of Mischief Theatre is not just limited to the audience.
Scene changes are wonderfully segue wayed with the cast singing 50’s doo wop whilst the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed using cartoon-like inventiveness as a throw back to silent movies.
The writing is super slick – the 2 Henrys and a Jonathan are masters at multi-layered comedy blending words, actions and the subtlest of entendres – for Bank Robbery they have produced a blend of Whitehall farce coupled with Carry On and all wrapped up in Mischief’s impeccable attention to detail. The word plays are writ large and proud, you can see most of them coming but they land so perfectly that you’re still amazed by the simple brilliance. The set is a shining example of ingenuity and seamlessly supports the physical comedy whilst providing the frame in which the magic happens; you are lulled into a false sense of familiarity and then suddenly what appeared to be an office becomes a vault, an air duct, a bed frame, a wardrobe.
It is not often that a show delivers through every single second of the performance but with Bank Robbery there isn’t a moment across the 2 hours in which the pace slips, the humour eases or the tears stop rolling . A special mention too for the programme – this is one of the best companions to a show, packed full of the same humour and has a wonderfully witty timeline of the evolution of Mischief Theatre.
All in all, this show has delighted West End theatregoers for the past 2 years and very soon it will share the love around the UK – it WILL sell out so grab your tickets now, strap up your sides and take a deep breath.
***** and an extra *
The Comedy about a Bank Robbery is on tour – check out the dates and tickets here: