A Comedy About A Bank Robbery arrives at The Lowry on the second stop of 24, in the show’s first UK tour that runs til June 2019.
The packed auditorium gives some indication of the anticipation for this latest stage show from Mischief Theatre – the company who created the smash hit, The Play That Goes Wrong.
Fans of their earlier work will delight in the same slap-stick silliness and super-slick timing. And, the familiar narrative of a bank heist gives plenty of scope for cartoon-like satire.
The action opens in a jail. One of the convicts is there for robbery and assault and the warden asks him: ‘Who would steal a salt?’ Yes – it’s corny and after a couple of minutes I did wonder whether the word-play could become a bit tedious. It didn’t. Indeed, it comes so thick and fast that following such bizarre trains of thought is genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious.
The physical japery is as energetic as the word-play is fast. There are elements of farce with characters hiding in cupboards, being knocked-out by doors and losing their trousers. There are also songs and a hugely exaggerated mistaken-identity, that doesn’t simply stretch credibility but demands we create a whole new sphere from which to view the story.
David Farley’s design feels like a highly stylised graphic novel. Minneapolis is drawn as a city of lights, shining from cut-out silhouettes of buildings. Inside, the lines are drawn with equal boldness using brightly-coloured cut-outs. And there is some excellent play with perception as the robbers crawl along the air-conditioning pipes, looking onto the floor below.
A Comedy About A Bank Robbery is very much an ensemble piece, and the whole cast are terrific. It’s a young, vibrant company and in this tour two actors are making their mark with impressive professional debuts. George Hannigan proves himself a master of mime, playing Everyone Else which involves a three-way fight with himself as different characters. And Julia Frith seduces the audience as well as all the men in the piece, playing trickster girlfriend and banker’s daughter, Caprice Freeboys.
This lively, funny show is a fantasy world of silliness, and the audience’s warm response shows what a rare and needed tonic it is.
★ ★ ★ ★
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is at The Lowry, Salford Quays from 11 to 15 September 2018. For full tour details visit thecomedyaboutabankrobbery.com