The creators of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ struck gold with this classic comedy crime caper. Now into its third year in the West End, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ is a slapstick-heavy spoof of every Hollywood heist movie ever committed to camera. By all accounts, it’s a gem.
The plot (such as it matters) sees a team of old-school safe-busters trying to crack one last crime. The year? 1958. The place? Minneapolis City Bank – a high security outfit so lax it makes your bottom drawer look safe. Inside, a priceless diamond owned by (who else?) a louche Hungarian prince has caught the attention of a magpie-like jailbird, Mitch, and he’s gathered his guys (and gals) together for one last job: a screwball sidekick, his trickster girlfiend and an unwitting maintenance man.
Ditching the shonky theatrics and am-dram disasters of their debut show, Mischief Theatre has turned its hand to overblown pastiche instead, revelling in the overblown absurdities of a classic genre. As one critic put it, ‘The Comedy About A Bank Robbery’ swaps the criminal stylings of Agatha Christie for those of Naked Gun – not a ‘whodunnit’, but a ‘howaboutit’. Needless to say, everything almost goes awry in a tangle of mistaken identities, love triangles and scheming scullduggery.
As ever, writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields have stuffed their script chock-full of set-pieces and pratfalls, and the result is uproarious – arguably Mischief’s most accomplished show so far. It is certainly a mark of how far the group of drama school graduates have come since debuting in a room above a pub.
It might be classic comic fare, but such is the company’s panache and goodwill, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ is infectious stuff. Inventive too: director Mark Ball has once again roped in a clever creative team to pull off a couple of coups des theatre. As choices go, this one’s safe as a high-security vault.