Friday, 20 May 2016

Review: 'The Comedy About a Bank Robbery'

by Oliver Clark

The Mischief Theatre Company are the most talented group of actors and actress on the West End. The Play that Goes Wrong was met with national acclaim, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2014, a show that had me in stitches on two separate occasions (the first time, on a birthday where my hotel room in London was robbed!). Peter Pan goes Wrong, their festive take on the classic pantomime, was also nominated for Best New Comedy in 2016, and after viewing it in Christmas of last year, I will never be able to look at the big green crocodile in the same way again.

Going into their new show, The Comedy about a Bank Robbery, I did not know what to expect. As I soon found out, whereas their 'Goes Wrong' plays relied on frantic chaos and beautifully played 'characters behind the characters', this went in a fresh new direction, with an impeccably written script, a hilarious story and a set that had me at times quite literally, up the wall. Although I felt that this lacked in the audience interaction and strong personalities of the Cornley Polytechnic Dramatic Society, it was made up for by the sheer performance that was put on offer by the full cast.

The writers of these shows never fail to amaze me. Henry Shields, Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer, not only star as three very unique and charismatic actors, each with their own personal traits (Shields' dry and Bond-esque humour, Lewis' pained cries of frustration which bring audience members to tears, and Sayer's ever present optimism that almost always ends calamitously (although this time, thanks to a pair of seagulls, has a slightly happier end)), but also have the brains along with fellow writers and stage creatives to put on a show that brings pure joy to its audiences.

This had a slower start in comparison to their previous productions, setting the scene as a criminal escapes from jail, (after the customary one botched laundry basket escape) to find his girlfriend and set up one last heist, stealing a diamond that is being kept under the protection of a bank, conveniently owned by none other than the girls father. The story is built around the increasingly calamitous plot involving the 20 year intern, the secretary and her scheming son, the Security Guard who can never seem to catch a break, and Cooper, who looked like he would rather be down the road in Mamma Mia.

As the play progressed, with a number of powerful songs along the way (a pleasant surprise, as this was one of the talents not showcased by the group in their previous plays), the audience begins to realise that this can only end calamitously! As characters begin to fall left, right and centre, the story draws to a close with a fitting conclusion and a rapturous round of applause. It is at this point that I wonder, where can these talented people go? Broadway seems the only destination suitable for actors of this calibre. Their highly British humour, this time with an American theme, would have the New York audience feeling as much joy as the Londoners experience on a daily basis. If any of you wish to experience joy and humour in its purest form, I implore you to see this group of highly skilled performers before they are gone!

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