The Comedy About a Bank Robbery – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Writer: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields

Director: Kirsty Patrick Ward

Reviewer: Nicole Craft

Mitch is in the slammer. Enlisting the help of one of the prison guards, Cooper, he concocts a plan to bust out and go and steal a precious diamond from the city bank owned by his girlfriend’s father. Cooper hasn’t told a soul…apart from his colleague, who told his colleague, who told his colleague (you get the idea) and now it seems that everyone and their baby is on board. All that’s left is to seek out his girlfriend – who has since duped several other men into giving her money for false love and is about to sleep with her new Rabbi-Lawyer-Doctor (aka con artist) boyfriend – and persuade her to be in on the plan.

What could possibly go wrong?

Although one arguably shouldn’t compare a play to its predecessor, with The Play That Goes Wrong being such a strong and memorable production, it’s very hard not to, despite the two being quite different. Where The Play That Goes Wrong won over audiences with its non-stop pace, Bank Robbery focusses a little more on dramatic scenes at times which, although not a major flaw, does occasionally make for a somewhat disjointed series of set-pieces. That said, the scenes that do concentrate on comedy, slapstick and wordplay are tremendously executed and the laughs certainly roll along when the pace picks up and, even when the plot feels a little dragged out, the actors are utterly top-class and their efforts and rapport more than make up for any slight shortfalls.

Julia Frith, for whom this production marks a professional debut, convinces as sweet-cum-money-grabbing Caprice, with her transformation as she realises the error of her ways and falls for Sam (Seán Carey) charmingly endearing. Carey impresses just as much as the love-struck crook and the pair bounce off each other throughout resulting in beautifully timed, absolutely farcical scenes of pure comedy genius; the ‘flapping firebird’ bedroom charades scene with Carey posing as Caprice’s father particularly memorable. Damian Lynch takes the role of Caprice’s actual father, Robin Freeboys (whose cousin is naturally called Roger), and runs with it. Deadpan expressions combined with crippling wit make for guaranteed giggles whenever he is present.

Ashley Tucker steals stage and show with her performance as long-serving bank clerk and long-suffering mother-of-a-crook, Ruth Monaghan. Completely deceiving us regarding her age as a 20-something playing a 50-something, not only does she shine comedically – with fabulous expressions, mannerisms and timing – she also has the vocal abilities of a musical theatre diva; an absolute joy to both watch and listen to.

As previously said, this is not The Play That Goes Wrong, and if you waltz in expecting it to completely live up, you’ll be disappointed. However, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is still utter comedy genius with smart direction, fabulous acting, cracking stage-sets and witty-wordplay. Mischief Theatre has successfully managed to take themselves in a new direction without losing the very charm that attracts us to them in the first place. Superb!

Runs Until 9th March 2019 and on tour  | Image: Contributed

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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