THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY
Theatre Royal Plymouth – 6 October and Touring
2 hours 35 minutes – 1 interval
Theatre Royal Plymouth Box Office – 01752 267222
Review – Cormac Richards 2 October 2018
Mischief Theatre made their name with ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’; the tale of an incompetent amateur theatre company whose disaster-prone antics have entertained audiences around the country for several years now. ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ and this play soon followed and found favour in the West End of London. Ventures into television have followed with ‘Christmas Carol Goes Wrong’ airing on BBC1 last Christmas.
Whereas the first play had some merit as a successor to the ‘Coarse Acting’ plays of Michael Green, the follow ups have deviated from the fertile soil of ‘am dram’. The only way I can describe the style of these pieces is that it is somewhere between Pantomime and Farce – elements of both are found, but for me it falls between two stools. I liked the original play, but the venture into television was misguided in my eyes. Just as Panto doesn’t work on television neither did these plays. The version last Christmas was just awful.
I love good comedy and good farce – ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’ starring Joe Pasquale at this theatre early in the summer was a prime example of this genre given the best treatment possible. There is no doubt that this company is blessed with performers of talent and versatility and people of vision providing the sets and scenarios. But….I found the evening wore thin very early on and to me it was a 45minute piece squeezed into two and a quarter hours. I just couldn’t find it funny enough. Only in the far better second act did I manage to rustle up a giggle.
What is wrong with me? Have I lost my humour? Not at all, but what this production fails to do is to capitalise on the laughs it gets. There are too many moments which are just not funny. The whole is like a partially blown-up balloon which is allowed to deflate quickly and so the process has to start again and maximum potential is never reached. Interludes with the ‘mime’ sequence and the security guard – both played by the same actor are just not funny enough to keep the audience engaged – and, like so many of the of the gags or comic situations they are done to death so they lose impact.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things to admire. The performance of Jon Trenchard as Warren, the elderly bank clerk who is the victim of much of the slapstick is bang on and the scene where the audience ‘look down’ on the office from above is a masterpiece of innovation and comic foresight.
The first part of Act 1 was full of song interludes and multiple set changes which were slick and clever, the second half of the act was confined to one set and the singing disappeared. The script doesn’t know what it wants to be. It is a mish mash.
I very much wanted to like this more, but for me it is overdone and, I am afraid, appears to lurch into self-indulgence. Although the audience appeared to enjoy themselves, the performance did not garner the near hysteria Mr Pasquale achieved in a production which was tight, frenetic and modest – words I cannot use to describe this show.
A disappointing evening of over-egging and missed opportunities.
Writers – Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields
Directors – Mark Bell, Kirsty Patrick Ward
Set Designer – David Farley
Lighting Designer – David Howe