The Comedy About a Bank Robbery has celebrated its second anniversary in its West End home, the Criterion Theatre, and there is certainly a lot to celebrate, including an extension in to 2019 and a brand-new cast. But, stepping in to the shoes of the original Mischief Theatre cast is no easy task, and it begs the question, has this comedy caper stood the test of time?
There’s no change in the plot of this uproariously funny farce; a bumbling bunch of crooks are out to steal a diamond from the Minneapolis City Bank and find themselves in a number of hilarious scrapes as they attempt to pass not one, but two, of their number off as bank manager, Robin Freeboys. Add to the mix an incompetent security guard and a 67-year-old intern and the scene is set for a riotous night of entertainment.
From the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong, this is a production that goes absolutely right, and it has to! There is a lot riding on the visual gags, which take slapstick to a whole new level, and puts the cast in positions that seem to defy the laws of gravity. It’s not all whacking each other around the head with walking cane’s, there’s some ingenious word play that doesn’t prove too taxing for the audience either.
Sam Fogell gives an exceptional performance as Sam Monaghan, his gymnastics in the bedroom scene (he has to hide from a jailbird ex – lover with the help of a Murphy Bed), followed by his subsequent mistaken identities, had me aching with laughter. His co-conspirator in that scene is Holly Sumpton as Caprice Freeboys, and they make the perfect comedy pairing.
Another excellent match is Jack Baldwin as Officer Shuck, and Jenna Augen playing Ruth Monaghan, while Samson Ajewole gives us a very enjoyable Neil Cooper. Leonard Cook may not have the booming voice of his predecessor but he was more than able to make the character of Robin Freeboys his own, and more enjoyable for it.
Poor Peter McGovern takes quite a beating as Warren Slax, but of course he handles it beautifully. The criminal ‘mastermind’ Mitch Ruscitti is very convincingly played by former Jersey Boy, Matt Hunt.
Chris Leask keeps us all entertained as Everyone Else, yes, he plays almost every other character! Leask has appeared in all of Mischief Theatre’s West End and television productions, including The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, and his experience shines through, at one point portraying a three-way fight while completely alone on stage.
Two years on, and this show is still an absolute gem of a comedy, and has lost none of its sparkle. This fantastic new cast are breathing a fresh lease of life in to The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, ensuring that this extended run will not disappoint the audiences who flock to see it.