Missing bank robbery comedy would be criminal

If you’re anything like me, when you visit London, you always keep an eye out for posters for the latest theatre shows.

One that caught my eye in recent times was The Comedy About A Bank Robbery – after all, you’d expect it to have a title like Smash and Grab, rather than describing exactly what it’s about.

Now, Mischief Theatre’s Olivier Award nominated West End smash hit The Comedy About A Bank Robbery  is embarking on a nationwide tour, and is currently at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.

It’s very much a Ronseal production – it does exactly what it says in the tin.

We’re taken back to the summer of 1958. The Minneapolis City Bank has been entrusted with a priceless diamond by Prince Ludwig of Hungary. Escaped convict Mitch Ruscitti is dead set on pocketing the gem with the help of his trickster girlfriend Caprice – whose father Robin Freeboys just happens to be its manager.

It’s entertaining from the start. It sets its stall out early on, so you know exactly what you’re in for – there’s some clever – and also silly – word play. There’s songs. There’s clever use of props. And don’t forget the sets – they’ve been brilliantly designed, and are moved around by the cast, without being too distracting.

Each and every one of the cast is perfect for the roles – you could easily believe they had been written especially for them. Dave Hearn as Sam Monaghan, David Coomber as Neil Cooper, Julia Frith as Caprice Freeboys, George Hannigan as Everyone Else, Liam Jeavons as Mitch Ruscitti, Damian Lynch as Robin Freeboys, Killian Macardle as Officer Randal Shuck, Ashley Tucker as Ruth Monaghan, and Jon Trenchard as Warren Slax.

The comedy timing of each of the cast is perfect – especially Trenchard, during a scene in which he is repeatedly struck on a head, showing a physical acting that would have made Norman Wisdom or Lee Evans proud.

There’s plenty of good old farce too, especially during the bedroom scene as Mitch returns home, and Caprice has Sam hiding everywhere. Just when you think he’s going to get out, something else happens. It never seems overlong – it’s a simple gag which has been worked to perfection.

A highlight of the second act has to be the fight between Caprice’s three lovers. However, all three are played by the one actor, George Hannigan, and the fist fight is a work of genius – to have one man playing both sides in a conflict is something I’ve seen before, but to be three… Fantastic, and cleverly staged.

And it gets very, very silly as we watch the team make their way through the airducts to find the diamond – only for the action on stage to be turned through 90 degrees. Again, Trenchard excels at this, as he (reluctantly) makes his way from desk to desk, and while his restraints ensure he can beat gravity, the paperwork he’s looking for doesn’t. And the scene’s denouement – well, I won’t spoil it, but it’s a killer. Again, ingenious.

It’s easy to think of drama in horizontal terms, especially in the theatre, but in this case, it’s very much vertical as well. Life doesn’t just go from left to right, and right to left – it’s up and down too. Unexpected, and smart.

The supporting cast also make their presence known, imbuing a bit of life and character into the passing seagulls.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery was a great night out. The humour is child-friendly, the cast are very much on their A game, and I left with a huge grin on my face. If you don’t see The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, it’s criminal.

The production is at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, at 282 Hope Street, until Saturday 10 November. Performances are at 7.30pm, with matinees on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm.

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