Truly Hilarious: THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY at the Criterion

I saw The Play That Goes Wrong - Mischief Theatre's other big hit currently playing in the West End - last year... and I hated it. There was something about how ridiculously over the top the show was that made me feel like my level of humour was being insulted slightly; to me, humour isn't funny if it's too obvious, because I think that it has to be well-written and witty and that's what this play is.

Their latest venture into the West End is very similar to their previous two shows The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong in that slapstick humour and other levels of stupidity are present, but this play has something different going for it: an actual plot to it. The point of the previous two shows seemed to be to act stupidly and to get quick laughs all the way through to the very end when there is literally nothing left to laugh at. It worked for a while, but this play works even better because it has an end goal; the story has to come to an end when the bank robbery is complete and because of that, the humour required needs to be witty and appropriate for the characters that you grow to love throughout the course of the play. Mischief Theatre manage it perfectly and it makes The Comedy About A Bank Robbery a truly fantastic comedy play.

Charlie Russell as Caprice Freeboys in The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

The story is literally as the title suggests: we follow a team of people including the bank manager's daughter on their journey to robbing the local bank. Along the way, we face all of the usual problems like getting the keys to the safe; a dangerous love triangle between the weedy boy who didn't want to get involved, the scary bank thief and the damsel in distress; as well as near misses and everything else. Mischief Theatre are very good at taking a cliche and making it funny in a completely unconventional way and that talent is at play here.

The design of Mischief Theatre shows is something that I love every time I see one. For some reason, the set always looks like a cross between something you'd buy flat-packed from Ikea and the kind of furniture that Spiderman would interact with in a comic book. It's almost child-like and would look stupid in a serious drama, but the strange angular shapes and saturated colours add to the hilarity and stupidity of the piece perfectly. The whole play feels like you're watching a kid's TV movie and finally understanding all of the adult jokes as an older person and in that sense, I can tell why this is such a hit with families including younger children.

Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayers and Henry Shields - Mischief Theatre's Olivier Award-winning writers - in TCAABR
The cast are incredible as well. The beauty of catching this show in the first few months of it being open is that you get to see the full Mischief Theatre team who created and devised the show and have been friends for many years. As a result, the humour is at its highest as they know exactly what they were going for when the play was first scripted and that kind of intimacy is evident from the audience's perspective. Standout cast members are definitely the likes of the team's company manager Jonathan Sayer and the wonderful Charlie Russell but at the end of the day, all of them are superb.

From fantastic performances by the team who devised the show to jokes that actually made me laugh out loud (if you've seen the show, it's the bedroom scene that I find the funniest), I think The Comedy About A Bank Robbery might well be the funniest play that I have ever seen and that's something I don't say lightly. It's rare that I can find a comedy play which I would happily sit through a second time and probably still laugh at, but I think I might have just found my match.

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