Criterion Theatre, London
Guest reviewer: Susannah Martin
After humble beginnings in a space above a pub, it’s an impressive feat to go on and conquer the West End, and Broadway too, but Mischief Theatre continues to prove why their productions are worthy of playing a variety of theatres across the world. Celebrating their second birthday at the Criterion Theatre, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is the company’s third West End hit, and it’s easy to see why.
In fact, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery remains as funny as ever, and the hilarity comes from the simplicity of the story – a group of would-be criminals attempting to stage a diamond heist. Predictably, a number of things don’t quite go to plan and chaos quickly ensues. Unlike their flagship The Play That Goes Wrong, which sees much of the humour come from collapsing sets, Bank Robbery relies on nifty dialogue and puns alike to get the audience cracking up.
There’s stellar characterisation from Sam Fogell as pickpocket Sam Monaghan, whose fast-paced switching of characters leaves you in stitches, whilst Chris Leask as Everyone Else (literally) demonstrates some serious comedic skill. Jenna Augen as Ruth Monaghan not only shows off soaring vocals but is menacingly sweet as an all-American mother. Much like their other shows, the success lies in the strength of the sensational ensemble who bounce off each other to satisfying effect.
A number of great moments include Jack Baldwin’s tricky wordplay with ‘Freeboys’ and ‘three boys’, as well as a nail-biting scene that sees two characters suspended up against a wall. It’s pant-wettingly funny throughout, and it helps that the story is engaging too, with music peppered to bridge the gap between scenes. Only the cleverest of on-stage tricks are applied in this play, and it’s the continual inventiveness and energy pumping through that truly sends it up.
Mischief Theatre early on identified a gap in the British theatre market, appealing to our love of slapstick ‘Fawlty Towers’ style comedy, creating a lucrative brand that can uplift the spirit of even the most anti-comedy theatregoer. As the play celebrates its second anniversary, it’s continued popularity simply proves that everyone loves a good dose of comedy.