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The Comedy about a Bank Robbery, The REP, Birmingham - review with pictures

Theatre & Comedy | Published:

The Holy Grail for crime writers is the perfect murder or the perfect robbery.

In fact, the copious programme notes for this production include some of the most notorious thefts to have taken place in this country, including the 2015 Hatton Garden Robbery where the bulk of the missing items totalling some £200m remain unrecovered, even though the perpetrators were jailed.

No mention is made of the 2004 Belfast bank raid which saw £26.5 million disappear with no trace to this day of either the money or the thieves.

No such problem here as the object to be stolen in merely a $500k diamond which is to be kept in a mid western American bank for a short time.

The plot, created by writing team Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, to liberate the jewel is hatched in a local prison, and although the scheme is supposed to be secret every single prison officer knows about it, including the Warden.

Meanwhile at the bank the president Robin Freeboys, Damian Lynch, is developing his own agenda. The characters getting involved include the petty criminal son of the bank’s teller, who is not only a nifty pick-pocket but also a convincing Doctor, Lawyer and Rabbi.

Ashley Tucker, Damian Lynch, Julia Frith, David Coomber, Killian Macardle. Photo Robert Day

Also working at the bank is Warren, Jon Trenchard, a sixty five year old intern, whose house was repossessed by the president. Add in an FBI officer and several relatives to complete the comedic mix.

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Once the comedy starts Director Mark Bell ensures that the pace is fast, furious and relentless. Lots of people need to see Robin Threeboys, very reminiscent of the Ronnie Barker/Ronnie Corbett Fork Handles sketch. After a lengthy discussion about one, two or three boys it is not robin they seek but Roger. There’s a very pregnant silence.

For in this kind of physical theatre timing is everything, from the lightning quick verbal exchanges to the sounds of physical contact it all has to be perfectly executed, especially where in one scene the three versions of the pant-less bank’s president are knocked out with successive blows.

The cast of The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. Photo Robert Day

There are sections which include a collapsing folding wall-bed, providing much opportunity for comic timing, and a long section involving some hilarious charades.

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There’s even a scene where some of the characters are seen from above, which certainly plays tricks with visual expectations.

The diamond eventually goes missing because as one character puts it, “In this town everybody’s a crook.”

Julia Frith, Liam Jeavons, David Coomber, Se+ín Carey. Photo Robert Day

Bank Robbery follows on from The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, both of which enjoyed successful West End runs and followed the trials and tribulations of the amateur Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. All three shows are currently touring the UK and the company has deserved its generally high praise from the critics and theatrical awards recognition which certainly reflects the high level of work and technical expertise which goes into their productions.

Bank Robbery performs until September 8.

By Jerald Smith

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