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Posts Tagged ‘The Comedy About A Bank Robbery’

The international success of Mischief Theatre has been one of the theatre world’s great fairytales. The Play That Goes Wrong went from a room above a pub to 5 years in the West End, where it still runs, and almost a year on Broadway; I’ve lost track of the number of other countries it’s been staged in. There have been two more shows in the West End, with The Comedy About A Bank Robbery now in it’s 4th year and Peter Pan Goes Wrong back for Christmas, when they will have 4 shows in London running at the same time, with Magic Goes Wrong following this into the Vaudeville Theatre. They only left drama school c.10 years ago!

I was pleased they moved on from ‘goes wrong’ to have as much success with The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, a retro caper comedy that went straight into the West End, and they’re moved on again with this new show which, even though the trademark farce & physical comedy is still there, adds a lot of observational comedy. I really liked it.

The first act sees us in a primary school with five kids, played by adults in an oversized set, and the behaviour accurately reflects kids of that age; it’s very funny. In act two the same kids are teens in secondary school and we see how their archetypes have grown, if anything even funnier. In the final act we’re at a school reunion to see what they’ve made of their lives now that they’re in their early thirties. It’s still funny, but with more depth as we see how our early years mould us and make us, or not.

The five actors playing the kids growing up, all Mischief founders, are terrific at all three ages, with two other actors each playing two adult roles. On the night I went George Haynes was standing in for Jonathan Sayer, but you’d never know it. The set proportions get smaller as the characters get older and there are lovely running gags, most involving the school hamster. I thought it was an inspired idea to add a surprise performance after the curtain call. It might have a few less laughs than previous shows, but it’s got more depth, and I felt it shows the growth of the company as well as the characters they’re presenting.

The critical reception was lukewarm but the audience on Saturday seemed to love it. It may have improved since the press night (it appears to have lost 20 mins) and I would certainly recommend it. They’ve built up a loyal following and for me the secret of their success is that they combine consummate theatrical skills with good-time appeal to everyone of any age, offending no-one. Long may the fairytale continue.

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