The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is exactly what it says on the tin, a ridiculous laugh-filled comedy revolving around a heist. Though it struggles to ever become much more than that, it really does have some hidden gems.
The set was ambitious, with huge moving scenery and some real wow moments, some of the scenes in Act 2 were particularly impressive. Without wanting to give it away, an underwater sequence, car chases and a scene where gravity seemed to make up its own rules were remarkably clever, showing a real cohesion between the directors (Kirsty Patrick Ward and Henry Lewis), the set and lighting designers (David Farley and David Howe) and the actors.
“The scene changes were clunky”
However, whilst this show clearly would work brilliantly in situ at a theatre, the immense and ambitious set didn’t always translate seamlessly onto a mid-tour stage. Rooms were made to be scaled up and down to fit different sized stages, but this sometimes meant that walls overlapped haphazardly, and at other times bits of the wall were flapping mid-scene.
The scene changes were clunky, with some stretching on beyond the songs that were meant to cover them. At one point one of the moving sets even came out of the rails, which resulted in the stage manager coming out and temporarily stopping the show, making it seem more like their metatheatrical sister show The Play That Goes Wrong than the uninterrupted cinematic production it clearly aimed to be. Whilst this was disappointing, they are issues that will hopefully be ironed out during the run.
“It was simply style over substance”
This leads to one of my main issues with the production, it was simply style over substance. The characters were largely one-dimensional stereotypes which made some of the jokes feel a little bit aged, one about suicide felt particularly misjudged. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the two-and-a-bit hours that I spent with the characters, it’s just there was nothing particularly new or innovative.
There were also moments when the play didn’t appear to know what it wanted to be, the final scene of Act 1 became a hilarious one room farce, whereas others were trying to mimic the styles of Hollywood blockbuster heist films. This, rather than making the comedy more accessible to the audience, instead made it cluttered and incohesive.
“There were, however, some moments of inspired brilliance”
There were, however, some moments of inspired brilliance, one particularly notable scene being a fight between three of Caprice’s lovers performed entirely by George Hannigan. The way in which he depicted the three men simultaneously and yet markedly different from each other was hilarious and highlighted to me the fact that in moments where the show didn’t become too preoccupied in the style and grandeur, it could have some real substance.
Whilst I have been very critical, I did enjoy the play, even if I did leave wishing it could have a bit more. For those who like puns and farces I would highly recommend, but for the many who don’t, I would say stay away, it is quite telling that the couple next to me left mid-way through the first act.
Featured Image Courtesy of Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Official Facebook.