‘The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief’ Act I, Scene III, Othello
The opening night of The Comedy About a Bank Robbery at the Bristol Hippodrome had an incredible atmosphere. Performed by Mischief Theatre, the same company who brought us The Play That Goes Wrong, expectations were high. However, where The Play That Goes Wrong plays largely upon the performance of the actors and a smaller audience’s participation, this play uses all theatrical elements it can to deliver a comedy that comes at you from all angles.
Set in Minneapolis in the 1950s, the play starts with a jailbreak; the audience follow the story of the jailbroken crook trying to steal a diamond locked away in the safe of the local bank. Immediately the audience is bombarded with numerous puns, getting good laughs for moments of perfect comic timing. A common theme is set up here: parts of the script or actions are repeated, getting more and more frantic and ridiculous. This runs throughout the play, keeping the audience on edge - in high anticipation of what's to come.
Each performer brings something different to the show, some using props, and some using physical comedy. Each character is completely over the top and dedicated to their parts. The character Mitch Ruscitti doesn’t have as many hilarious lines as the others, but perhaps this is in order to use him to drive the plot amongst the hilarity that ensues. Certainly, the ability of all to stay in character - even in the most absurd and hilarious situations - is remarkable. Cooper, played by David Coomber, particularly stands out, as his character made me laugh at almost every turn. The musical element must also be credited; powerful and lively singing adds a great energy and keeps up the pace of the show. The bright costumes and the colourful set really highlight the fun and silliness of the show. We are fully transported to 1950s America, where anything can happen. This becomes true particularly in the second half, where a new dimension is added to the set causing the play spill outside the confines of the stage.
After a slow start, the climax of events and creative use of props and stage really engage the audience. Ridiculous humour, mistaken identity, and a climax of absolute chaos is somehow the perfect mix to pull off one of the best jewel heists I’ve ever seen.