Mischief Theatre’s slapstick play 'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery' returns for its fourth year at the Criterion Theatre. This West-end hit is fast and hilarious and one that takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions. It has a depth that breaks out of the mould of the comedy genre but holds up the comedic frameworks.
The play is based in the late ’50s in Minneapolis. The main plot is made clear at the start of the first act with the main characters, Mitch Ruscitti’s (Gareth Tempest) intention to rob Minneapolis City Bank that has been entrusted with a priceless diamond. With the assistance of Cooper, the prison security guard, (Samson Ajewole) and Ruth Monaghan a con-woman, (Jenna Augen) the group tackles several obstacles of mistaken identities, love triangles and hidden agendas. A phrase repeated throughout the play ‘everyone’s a crook in this town’ becomes the central idea that is no one can be trusted. The play is helped along with a few short musical numbers that act as a relief from the laughter. The funniest scenes in this play come in the first act and are on the premise of mistaken identities. A game of charades in the middle of the play to decipher Ruth’s father’s background leaves everyone clutching their stomachs from laughing, and the bit is nothing short of extraordinary.
The play has a myriad of characters that all possess different personalities, and one can see oneself in each of them. Several people are after the diamond, and the audience’s affiliations change as they try and figure out whom to root for. The show also plays on love with two romantic storylines. The most endearing character is Cooper and calls for sympathy and joy through his stupidity.
Though there are some great jokes, the comedy does rely on being slapstick for its hilarity. The play; however, may be too stretched out, one feel laughed out at a few points which certainly is not terrible but tiring. They mention mild sexual innuendos, but some did even get the grown-ups to blush, leaving the children slightly confused. The play does cater to an audience member of every age; there is a little something for everyone to enjoy.
The set is continually moving, and the shifts work perfectly with the musical intervals. There is also a fantastic perspective scene, in which actors remain vertical but are suddenly seen from above. David Farley transports the audience decades into the past from the heart of London to a small town in America. Roberto Surface aids the actors with looking the part as the costume design is on theme and easy on the eyes with its pastel pallet. The costumes and the set work beautifully and blend well together. Timing is key in comedic plays whether physical or vocal the direction sets the joke in motion. Mischief theatre, with its large body of directors, have nailed comedic timing, making it look effortless. The actors played their parts to perfection, and the main characters really stood out and were not overshadowed by the one-liners of the minor roles.
'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery' makes for a lovely evening and is a play that is for everyone. Whether it’s a family affair or a solo one, you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.
'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery' is running at the Criterion Theatre till the 3rd of May 2020 and more information about the production can be found here.