Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields
Tour Director: Kirsty Patrick Ward
Reviewer: Simon Topping
From the very beginning, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery blasts its audience with quick-fire puns that has the auditorium in fits of laughter. This continues, at pace, throughout the two-hour performance, in a thoroughly enjoyable evening of mirth and mayhem.
The show is brought to us by the ever inventive Mischief Theatre; previous shows include the multi-award winning The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Written by Mischief founders Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Sheilds, this highly entertaining farce premiered back in 2016 at London’s Criterion Theatre. It is a testament to the play’s long running appeal that it continues to be performed in the Criterion to this day, over two years later.
Set in late 50’s America the action follows escaped convict, Mitch Ruscitti (Eddy Westbury) as he plans to steal the famous Maguvin Diamond from the Minneapolis City bank. With Ruscitti in this caper are his reluctant, estranged, girlfriend, who happens to be the daughter of the City bank manager, Caprice Freeboys (Julia Frith) and hapless sidekick Neil Cooper (David Coomber). The three bungling crooks set out to prise the jewel from the City bank vault but are thwarted at every turn as mishap after mishap befall the crew.
Lively, laugh out loud, dialogue and astonishing pratfalls are the trademarks of Mischief theatre and here they do not disappoint. The physicality of all the cast is amazing to watch. Sean Carey (playing Caprice’s love interest, lovable conman Sam Monaghan) especially delights in this regard in act one’s hilarious bedroom scene, which includes a fantastically played sex scene, which has the gathering crying with laughter. Jon Trenchard (Warren Slax) takes a comedy battering better than any other actor currently in theatre today. He is dragged around, placed in cupboards, hit with doors and bludgeoned with a box file with such great theatrical force that the audience are in danger of rupturing their sides laughing.
The laughter is unabated as we see great recurring visual gags (mustachioed police inspectors being a favourite), further extreme comedy violence and well place innuendo which keeps the piece ticking along at a fast pace and keep the spectators both enthralled and amused.
The staging (created by David Farley) is practical, innovative and imaginative with changes in perspective and a playful use of furnishing and furniture. The scene where the robbers are in the air ventilation provides a “wow” moment that produces gasps of excited appreciation from a thrilled Brighton throng. The use of barber shop style music links the scenes well and costumes complete the transformation into the 1950’s world that we are immersed.
Although obviously tightly rehearsed and scripted, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery has a joyful improvised feel to it. It has no lean points, or segments which feel like padding at all. It is a must see. A farce of the best kind and a night of total escapist glee.
Runs in Brighton till 17 November 2018 | Image: Robert Day