Mischief Theatre’s third West End production is three years old tonight. From the team that brought us The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong comes another huge hit in the form of a farcical American crime caper.
When two felons hatch a plan to break out of the British Columbia Penitentiary in an attempt to steal a prized diamond, it seems that everyone wants a piece of the action and to come along for the ride. Like the Ant Hill mob at full pelt, the farce and buffoonery is wonderfully relentless. It’s like the whole show is plugged in at the mains on full power and there’s no let-up until the curtain call. The humour seems broad but the writers and the performers have struck a unique balance of entertaining the masses whilst also delivering a spectacularly original, clever and genuinely funny script.
The writing is as tight as miserly bank manager Robin Freeboys, the guardian of the sparkling and highly coveted gem. There’s a mind-blowing multitude of painstakingly crafted puns that could rival a Two Ronnies sketch, and the audience gasp for air at the sheer hysterical joy of their punmanship. The cast are all highly talented, and it’s an unbound pleasure to be entertained by such a hilarious, awe-inspiring ensemble.
Jenna Augen, who plays audacious bank teller Ruth Monaghan, and Chris Leask, who deftly plays multiple roles, are so adept at physical comedy that one twitch of the arm or a character’s walk has the whole audience in fits of laughter. They are hugely impressive.
Every theatrical trick in the book seems to have been used for the dynamic, daring and utterly brilliant set and direction: from an astonishing vertically mounted scene with a mind-blowing, cinematic perspective, to the increasing status of police personnel, signalled by an ever expanding moustache. Each device is breathtakingly brilliant. There’s a bit of everything in this show, including some gorgeous barber shop harmonies.
It differs from their previous two shows in that it’s not a ‘Goes Wrong’ set up. There is a fourth wall, but the thread that runs through it is the masterful skill the writers and performers have for flawlessly choreographed farce. The team really are great actors with precise comic timing, and all this is contained in the beautiful Criterion Theatre, the perfectly ornate Victorian jewel at Piccadilly Circus. Happy 3rd birthday to a belly-bustingly funny night out at the theatre!
Written By: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields
Directed By: Mark Bell
Produced By: Digby Robinson
Box office: 08448156131
Booking link: https://www.criterion-theatre.co.uk/the-comedy-about-a-bank-robbery?eventid=401
Currently Booking until: May 2020