Hailed as ‘the funniest show in the West End’ by the Telegraph, A Comedy About a Bank Robbery certainly lives up to expectation. Set to a lush A Capella soundtrack and amidst dynamic physical theatre, this performance is an absolute standout. A Comedy About a Bank Robbery is Mischief Theatre’s latest contribution to the comedy scene in the West End, following their highly successful Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Play that Goes Wrong (still running after a highly successful three years and is a refreshing break from ‘The 39 Steps’, which had lauded over the West End for a decade).
Mischief Theatre’s comedy is more than the melodrama of The 39 Steps and the West End’s theatrical past. It is a glorious maelstrom of slapstick comedy, witty double entendres and impressive gymnastics. It is the kind of comedy that would appeal to all ages and all humours; in fact, there was not a single audience member who could resist laughing. A Comedy About a Bank Robbery is vastly different to Mischief Theatre’s first outing in The Play That Goes Wrong which dealt with the comedy of the theatre. Instead, A Comedy About a Bank Robbery, with its unassuming title, plays on the genre of American screw-ball comedies and capers, and more specifically, on American cinema. Through innovative use of staging and props, at one stage the characters hang from the wall, offering a bird’s eye view of the bank. Earlier on, the cast use a fold-up bed to duck and dive in between, hiding inside and underneath, to create a quick-paced and dynamic performance. The cast even recreate crawling through bank vents and hanging from the ceiling in an impressive caper-esque and cinematic manner.
It is a glorious maelstrom of slapstick comedy, witty double entendres and impressive gymnastics.
It is a thrilling 50s American crime caper complete with doo-wops and glamorous costumes titillating between the definition of a play and that of a musical. The plot centres around Mitch (Henry Shields) a criminal, recently escaped from prison, with the help of prison guard and partner in crime Cooper (Greg Tannahill) who have their eyes set on a priceless diamond contained within the Minneapolis City Bank. It is then that his girlfriend Caprice (Charlie Russell) becomes involved as does, by extension, her new love Sam (Dave Hearn). This clueless foursome must then attempt to rob the bank in an escapade which involves mistaken identities, characters sprawled across tables after being drugged with chloroform and (spoiler alert) hilariously unfortunate deaths.
Plays such as these are often overlooked amidst the hard-hitting dramas, glamorous musicals and more thespian comedies of tradition. Situated comfortably in the Criterion theatre with tickets ranging from just £10 a seat, there is very little excuse to give this play a miss. And for those that can’t make it down to London, it is even set to go on tour at the end of this year. Two and a half hours of pure, unadulterated laughter should surely be exactly what the doctor ordered in between the stress of Trinity revision and exams.