Opening in 2016 at the Criterion Theatre in the heart of Piccadilly Circus, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is by the group Mischief Theatre. Set in 1958 America, it centres around the plot of a diamond heist in a town where nearly everyone’s a crook.
I admit I hadn’t given the play much thought before going to see it. I’d vaguely heard of it, thanks to it being on tour recently, but had never really stopped to consider whether I wanted to see it. In fact, last year I walked straight past the Criterion Theatre and didn’t give the signs a second glance. I only went to see it because my parents got a deal on the tickets.
It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, honestly. Like I’m sure many before me have thought, I assumed the play would be much more similar to its parent show The Play That Goes Wrong (still playing at The Duchess Theatre). Now, the dialogue and the fast pace were much the same, but in this play the jokes come from the characters and the situation as opposed to things going wrong with the actors, costumes, or sets. But was it still funny? Oh, yes.
Because even though it was much more the traditional farce, it was very much enjoyable. The cast were phenomenal, and showcased all their talents from comedic timing and accents to singing. They dealt with quick costume changes and the moving of sets and props, as well as a whiplash-inducing delivery of jokes throughout. By the end, my cheeks hurt from laughing so much. And that wasn’t all. There were a few shock twists I didn’t seem coming, too, with the play taking a dark turn in one or two places that made it even more thrilling.
But more than just being an impressive string of fast-paced set changes and one-liners, the play also did something else; it convinced my dad that West End theatre isn’t all musicals and high-brow plays. He’s never been one for the theatre, but he was vaguely interested in this after finding out it was by the same people who had done Peter Pan Goes Wrong and A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong, which we had watched on the BBC in 2016 and 2017 respectively. He wanted to give it a try. And he thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is a hidden diamond in the West End’s crown. While there are many more well-known plays being performed in the surrounding theatres, I’d definitely be booking to see this one again.