A Comedy About a Bank Robbery | ★★★★☆ | The Criterion
First, there was The Play That Went Wrong, followed by Peter Pan Goes Wrong; now The Mischief Theatre Company – the improv outfit behind the surprise West End hits – is actually trying to do something well.
The cast have taken the slapstick perfected in the first two plays and applied it to a more traditional setup. Co-writer Henry Lewis plays bank manager Robin Threeboys, a fantastically grizzly cross between Richard Griffiths and Colonel Sanders, who’s trying to restore public faith in his bank in Minnesota by harbouring a precious crystal. Little does he know his daughter Caprice has been dragged into an elaborate plot to steal it by her crook boyfriend who’s just busted out of jail for the occasion.
What follows is a frenetic farce that races along like a getaway driver on speed. The jokes are constantly biting on the heels of the next one, meaning the material sometimes suffers in pursuit of the next laugh. But there’s no doubting these guys have some serious chops when it comes to physical comedy. The two stand-out scenes – a mistaken identity bedroom romp and gravity-defying bird’s eye view of the robbery – are all predicated on a deftness of touch, where the slightest slip could ruin a scene-long joke.
Thankfully, the cast are more than up to the task and it’s nigh on impossible not to come out beaming.