‘THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY’: (left to right) Gareth Tempest, Hannah Boyce & Steffan Lloyd-Evans. Photo: Darren Bell

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Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields
Directed by Mark Bell with Mischief Theatre
Through April 1, 2018
Criterion Theatre
218-223 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1V 9LB, UK
0844 815 6131, http://www.thecomedyaboutabankrobbery.com/


By David NouNou

This is what we can learn from this show: Americans, the British and Europeans have completely different values when it comes to comedy and sense of humor. The Brits and Europeans love lowbrow sex comedies and farces such as No Sex Please, We’re British, Boeing-Boeing, and Don’t Dress for Dinner. While they were huge hits in London and ran for decades, they bombed in New York.  Brits and Europeans love haphazard comedies full of pratfalls, slamming into doors, constantly being walloped and running into furniture among other things, repeating names that have a funny ring to it.

I’ll give you an example: Do you know the Abbott and Costello bit “Who’s on First, What’s on Second”? It seems some Brits don’t even bother to get to second; they are just happy listening to the repetition of “Who’s on First” over and over, like a needle stuck in a groove.  I admit Americans still love The Three Stooges with Moe, Larry, and Curley. Some Brits would love them even if it was just Shemp, Shemp and Shemp.

The title of this play tells you the whole story: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. What’s missing is the comedy in this screwball farce. It is written by the same comedy trio of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields. They are the writers behind their other “riot comedy” The Play That Goes Wrong which is a huge hit in London, but hasn’t been getting the same traction in New York. In comparison, The Play That Goes Wrong is grand theatre compared to the nonsense taking place here. Here is another example to what I alluded to in the previous paragraph. There is a character who is the bank owner by the name of Robin Freeboys (Sean Kearns). Well, the name “Freeboys” gets repeated ad nauseam in any given sentence.

The show from the onset is perplexing; two convicts are trying to escape a Canadian prison. However, all the prison guards are in cahoots with the prisoners to get to a gem worth $250,000. The convicts rid themselves of the guards and flee to Minneapolis, Minnesota to steal this gem from the bank owned by Robin Freeboys, deposited there by the Prince of Hungary. The British may not know that Minneapolis is in the north central part of the USA and that Minnesotans have a distinct nasal accent (think of the film Fargo). They don’t speak in a Southern drawl up there. But for some strange reason, the bank is run by Freeboys, a blustering, inept Southern gentleman who resembles and speaks like Colonel Sanders of KFC. If some Brits think all Americans look and sound alike, I guess Colonel Sanders is the lesser of the two evils we have now.

Naturally everyone in the play is a bumbling, inept boob, from the bank owner, his nephew (the bank clerk) to the gem robber, his assistant, Cooper, and including the detective assigned to the job. In all honesty, the audience members at our performance were rolling hysterically in the aisles. They consisted mostly of Europeans, some Brits, and a lot of visiting students. They were all having a grand old time, peeing themselves with laughter, except for four hapless Americans. Surprisingly, before show time, there were two other folks from the U.S. sitting behind us and upon hearing each other speak, we realized we were fellow Americans. We discussed what we’d seen and how we were enjoying London.

At intermission, the two Americans looked at us as we had similar expressions on our faces, they shook their heads in confusion and said they were leaving. They asked us if we would like to join them for a drink and woefully we said we can’t leave, we are critics and are obligated to stay to review the show. They gave us a look of pity, waved and left. The life of a critic is not always filled with new friends and cocktails.


Edited by Scott Harrah
Published June 29, 2017
Reviewed at June 23, 2017 performance in London



The Comedy About a Bank Robbery

‘THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY’: (left to right) Sean Kearns, Gareth Tempest, Jeremy Lloyd, Hannah Boyce & Steffan Lloyd-Evans. Photo: Darren Bell

‘THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY’: The cast. Photo: Darren Bell

‘THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY’: (left to right) Jeremy Lloyd, Miles Yekinni, Sean Kearns, Mark Hammersley, Gareth Tempest. Photo: Darren Bell

‘THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY’: Steffan Lloyd-Evans, Gareth Tempest & Hannah Boyce. Photo: Darren Bell

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery Official Trailer

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