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A CurtainUp London Review
The Comedy about a Bank Robbery
Set in Minneapolis in the 1950s, the play opens in a prison where two inmates are planning a secret jail break. It is a badly kept secret as all those privy to it appear on stage — one by one, two by two and one whole family — amusingly showing how a secret can spread. The inmates are aware and use the opportunity to lock up everyone so that they can escape. Their target is to rob a Minneapolis bank. The snag is that no-one is to be trusted with everyone in the twin cities displaying a dishonest or even murderous intent.
The first act has lots of word play, fast patter style like a Marx Brothers dialogue. Someone on a walkie-talkie has his sentences misunderstood as each time he says "Over" it is added on to the previous word like "Hand. Over". "Handover where?" asks the other bank robber. This routine is so enjoyable!
27 year old Jonathan Sayer plays Warren Slax, a 67 year old bank intern who thinks his career in the bank may have stalled. With his bald wig and stumbling gait, you'd never guess the actor's real age. He is a comedic tour de force. The bank manager Robin Freeboys (like Jacobean comedy, these players' names reflect their character) is played by Henry Lewis and impersonated by at least two others. Caprice Freeboys (Charlie Russell) is his daughter, who cons at least three men at once into giving her money, on the telephone, in the days before internet dating. Chris Leask takes the role of "Everyone Else" a masterly quick change achievement in tight situations.
As well as great invention, the telephone stands turn upside down for a scene using them as guitars, there is a wonderful parody of the Mission Impossible jewelry heist with three people suspended from a ceiling rope to steal the jewel without stepping on the floor alarm. For this scene, the designer has turned the set on its side and gives us some clever gravity defying movement. A motor cycle chase is improvised with the actions so spot on that we believe it.
The One About A Bank Robbery is a wonderful comedy at the Criterion at Piccadilly Circus. Some trouser down horseplay with multiple positions might draw questions from children so the advisory is ten years old and above but this is essentially an excellent family show.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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