Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields
Director: Mark Bell
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
The mighty Mischief Theatre return. Hoorah! On the heels of their world-wide success with The Play That Goes Wrong (Olivier Award-winning, a run on Broadway and around the globe and several UK tours) and Peter Pan Goes Wrong (West End, UK tour and a screening on the BBC), it’s now the turn of The Comedy About a Bank Robbery. Needless to say, this isn’t the Hatton Garden Robbery or Brink’s-MAT.
It’s summer 1958, Minneapolis, USA. A clutch of utterly clueless Canadian crooks attempt a diamond heist on Prince Ludwig of Hungary’s priceless jewel, cue the astonishing physical feats, witty wordplay and visual puns a-plenty with which this indefatigable theatre company are now synonymous.
The whole production plays out like a glorious 1950s, screwball B-Movie with harks back to the Golden Age of British comedy, there are nods to Morecambe and Wise and Two Ronnies sketches, and the wonderful stage adaptation of The 39 Steps (the show Mischief Theatre followed into the Criterion Theatre in the West End). The visual and physical gags are as jaw-dropping and inventive as ever (to state here what they are would ruin the effect).
The cast are universally top-notch, but it’s great to see Mischief founding member Dave Hearn (seemingly replacing Sean Carey) as con artist Sam, his pin-sharp timing is a joy, Julia Frith as bank manager’s daughter Caprice, is a glorious mix of Lucille Ball and Gloria Grahame, Jon Trenchard is hugely entertaining as the put-upon Warren and Ashley Tucker’s Mrs. Monaghan has more than a touch of Karen Walker from TV’s Will and Grace. The cast also do a brilliant job in their sung scene changes, fabulous 50s Doo-Wop hits cover all the transitions.
There’s a ‘turn up your nose’ snobbery about slapstick and farce, but there’s no denying that Mischief Theatre’s trademark comedy is universally appealing. It also has to be acknowledged how much intellect and acting skill is required to pull this off so successfully.
It does take a while for the first half to get into its stride and there are a few too many filler moments but, though it feels hackneyed to use the phrase ‘a laugh a minute’, it really ramps up to being just this, the visual and verbal comedy is relentless.
Mischief Theatre still have the power to please an audience. It leaves you wanting more and wondering what’s next from this powerhouse production team.
Runs until November 2018 | Image: Contributed