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The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

Theatre, Comedy Criterion Theatre , Piccadilly Circus Until Sunday May 3 2020
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(53user reviews)
 (© Darren Bell)
© Darren BellHenry Shields (Mitch Ruscitti), Charlie Russell (Caprice Freeboys)
 (© Darren Bell)
© Darren BellCharlie Russell (Caprice Freeboys)
 (© Darren Bell)
© Darren BellHenry Lewis (Robin Freeboys), Jonathan Sayer (Warren Slax), Henry Shields (Mitch Ruscitti)
 (© Darren Bell)
© Darren BellJonathan Sayer, Dave Hearn, Greg Tannahill,Henry Lewis, Gareth Tempest, Jeremy Lloyd
 (© Darren Bell)
© Darren BellDave Hearn (Sam Monaghan), Henry Shields (Mith Ruscitti), Charlie Russell (Caprice Freeboys)

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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The team behind 'The Play That Goes Wrong' hit the funnybone again

If you’re a plucky producer hoping to get your new show into the Criterion Theatre, you’re flat out of luck once again. Because less than nine months after 'The 39 Steps' shuttered after almost a decade glowering over Piccadilly Circus, it’s now home to the brand new comedy by Mischief Theatre, which, if there’s any justice in the theatre world, will run for even longer.

'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery' is the latest play by the bogglingly prolific and talented team behind 'The Play That Goes Wrong' (or more accurately the 'Play That Goes Wrong' franchise) and it’s their best and funniest work yet. A genre pastiche, screwball comedy and classic farce that’s as clean and clear as its brassy branding, it spins with a manic energy from Two Ronnies-esque wordplay through surreal set-pieces to slapstick stunts prepped to bring the house down.

The story of a bungled jewel heist in a sleepy Minneapolis bank branch, it features a host of hilarious but well-drawn characters who roar across the stage and tumble into disaster after disaster, each one more elegantly drawn than the last. The writers’ ability to snatch a laugh out of every line, and to intricately prime each scenario with zinging punchlines and pay-offs is stunning, as call-backs and running gags pile up into teetering edifices of absurdity.

The entire cast is bang on the money, but Mischief Theatre’s own Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer are the standouts as booming bank manager Robin Freeboys and hapless loser (and eternal intern) Warren Slax.

The whole caper’s probably a set-piece too long, a 2 hours 15 minutes is a long time to sustain this level of energy both for a cast and an audience, but 'The Comedy About a Bank Robbery' must rate as the best new comedy to open straight onto the West End in decades. In a year that has seen so many comedy greats snuff it, it’s heartening to see a new generation prove themselves so definitively up to the challenge.

This review is from 2016. The cast now includes Samson Ajewole, Jenn Augen, Jack Baldwin, Leonard Cook, Sam Fogell, Matt Hunt, Chris Leask, Peter McGovern and Holly Sumpton. Check official website for full cast details. 

By: Stewart Pringle



Venue name: Criterion Theatre
Address: 218-223 Piccadilly
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Users say (53)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:20
  • 4 star:14
  • 3 star:9
  • 2 star:7
  • 1 star:3
2 people listening
1 of 1 found helpful

Pretty rubbish. Bad jokes, in fact more annoying than bad. Very disappointing. Only giving a star because you cannot give zero. Seriously, don't waste your time or your money - you have been warned.

1 of 1 found helpful

I know that I'm not crazy, despite all the rave reviews making me question that. I found "The Play That Goes Wrong" pretty funny. This play was completely, entirely unfunny.

Let's start with the jokes -- "comedy" is in the title, after all. The jokes were nearly entirely derivative and unoriginal -- I've all seen almost every gag in here in some better form or fashion. The great "Who's On First?" by Abbott and Costello is borrowed completely and less funnily, there's a whole bit about saying "over" at the end of a walkie talkie conversation that is peeled directly from "Family Guy", a repeated hitting of a person on the head to jog and un-jog his memory a la Three Stooges, etc. etc. The gags were also too long by about half. There were a few moments I certainly laughed at, but it was as if the show was entirely aware that these moments are very few and far between. So, they either stretched these jokes out so far that you actually hoped they just would move the hell on, or came back and did they same EXACT gag sometime later in the show, now completely devoid of the element of surprise that actually causes a person to laugh.

Let's move on to the characters. First and foremost, I have to point out something, having seen "The Play That Goes Wrong" and "The Comedy About a Bank Robbery" in a span of two days. In each play, there was one black man in the cast who had what I would call a major role -- the butler in the former, and "Cooper" the cop in the latter. The PRIMARY joke of both of their characters is that they are mentally challenged and cannot read. And all the (white) people in the show point out constantly how idiotic they are, and how much they cannot read. In "The Play That Goes Wrong", the black guy literally has to write big words down on his hand and completely mispronounces them. Then he cries about it, and a white guy comforts him. That's his main gag. In this show, the black guy's character is out-of-his-mind stupid, and even has a line where someone says "Do you read?" and his response is "With help." In the end, before his randomly brutal and unnecessary death, he admits he knows how stupid he is, and a white character comforts him. Sound familiar? And everybody in the audience is cracking up like it's the damn 1950s. I don't know if these characters were originally written for a black person, but it's a terrible look. 

I will say every other character in this show is barely more intelligent, which is a problem; you have to be able to at least somewhat relate to characters or situations in a comedy to create the humor. These characters are so moronic that it's impossible to relate. In every situation, unless you COMPLETELY suspend belief, you find yourself completely removed because there are no humans on earth who are as stupid as these people. I'll give you just two examples, the two longest gags of the whole show. The first occurs when a guy is trying to leave a girl's apartment to escape from her ex-boyfriend, who has showed up and will kill him if he discovers him. He tries to leave the apartment about 40 times, and I'd say in 35 of them you can think of perfectly obvious ways for him to get out of the apartment. He dresses as a maintenance man in one part, and the ex says "why didn't you bring your tools?" The obvious thing to do is say, "Ah, they're downstairs!" and get the eff out. He says, "a good maintenance man doesn't need tools" and sticks around for 10 more minutes. At one point, he tries to get out a window, but is foiled because he inexplicably takes his shoes off before exiting the window, and leaves them under the window curtain in plain sight, and the ex notices them. Then, as if he suddenly remembers that there is zero reason to have taken off his shoes, he climbs back into the apartment to get his shoes.. and there's 10 more minutes of this!! Why would one do ANY of that? The other gag requires you to believe that everyone thinks that a ~67-year old white man, a ~25 year old white man, and a ~30 year old black man who are all vaguely dressed like one another are indistinguishable from each other. For 20 minutes.

I honestly don't even want to talk about the plot. It hinges on a person who breaks out of jail to rob a smalltime Minneapolis bank of a rare diamond that some random European prince has entrusted them with for literally no reason at all. The plot holes from there on are innumerable, to a frustrating degree. I know it's secondary to the gags, but there has to be SOMETHING coherent to string it all together. Not the case here.  What strings it together are musical interludes where the cast sings in entirely mediocre fashion. And why is everyone like 25 years old, playing characters who are supposed to be in their 50s? It looks like a university production where older actors just aren't available. But they obviously are!

There are also jokes that just aren't funny because they're not funny subjects, or aren't funny because they make the characters literally appear sociopathic. I've already discussed the illiterate black person joke. One pathetic character's only friend is shot, so he gives a heartfelt monologue and then jumps out window and commits suicide, and we all laugh. There are other completely unnecessary, unfunny deaths, seemingly because the writers and cast like the sound of caps guns. There are like 8 shots fired on stage. Elsewhere, Cooper the offensively dumb cop falls into a shredder, fake guts go everywhere, and then literally 30 seconds later everybody forgets about him. Also, the lead actress's father is shot before her eyes, and she leaves him dying without any hesitation. And we find out her mother died 6 WEEKS AGO in a plane crash, and she pantamimes her mom's plane crash death in one of the scenes to try to get her boyfriend to guess how she died. Like, what? Is this supposed to be funny? And she's supposed to be a sympathetic character that the audience likes. 

This is a lazy, unfunny show, and one that seems like it needed about 2 more years of workshopping before being put on a stage. But I bought tickets because reviews in reputable newspapers are pretending otherwise. So I'm giving my voice to the few who aren't bamboozled by lowest common denominator humor that requires you to shut your brain down entirely.

1 of 1 found helpful

Amazing show with very English humor !! I definitely recommend to go to see it.

1 of 1 found helpful

Brilliantly punny! I have been disappointed by comedy plays quite a bit through the years and so did not go in with any expectations, although I did like The Play that Went Wrong. The puns were brilliant and I was in stitches through most of the play. I cannot fault the cast, they were on point and hilarious! A great watch, if you do not like a pun or two or a hundred then don't go but if you like a good pun, silly antics and a great laugh give it a go! 

1 of 1 found helpful

This is the company that won an olivier award for best comedy for their production of 'The play that goes wrong' and also a brilliant run of 'Peter Pan goes wrong'. The show is highly entertaining and the audience was practically rolling on the floor with laughter. The set was utter genius. definitely one of the most clever use of set and perspective that I have seen. The actors were again side-splittingly funny, and I enjoyed the story line. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next as this is definitely another one in their great series of comedies.

1 of 1 found helpful

Hot on the heels of the surprise success of The Play that goes Wrong, Mischief Theatre Company is a breath of fresh air in the West End. It’s evident that the cast and writers have a genuine passion for stage productions with heart- not only do they turn outs highly polished scripts peppered with the breed of classic comedy that harks back to films such as Airplane! and Mel Brooks, but they push the boundaries of set design and have a strong rapport on stage. The Comedy about a Bank Robbery is no different- there’s nothing about this play that I can fault. Pure enjoyment, razor-sharp comedic timing and a sequence of jokes that never seem to fall flat, this is two hours of belly-aching laughter that can easily be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what their sense of humour.

The plot follows a convict on the run and his overly-enthusiastic associate (formerly his prisoner guard) who hatches a grandiose plan to rob a bank. But not just any bank- one managed by the father of his love interest in a town where everyone professes to be a crook. Expect lots of huge characters with highly idiosyncratic natures and surnames that will be the crux of a comic mix-up at least once. Also explosive doses of slapstick humour, perfectly executed visual gags and some moments of sheer absurdity that will have you in stitches.

The cast and script really carry the show and the energy is consistently high as each scene unfolds. I can’t remember ever seeing such a successful comedy on stage and this is one not to be missed, especially if you’re in dire need of a guffaw, chuckle and some knee-slapping fun. 

1 of 1 found helpful

Oh Man what a TREAT! this show is hilarious!!! I know everyone says it is but you don't fully get it till you've been! absolutely and utterly hilarious! I laughed more in those 2 hours than the whole of the month of march! that serious guys ...

The cast were absolutely lovable!

Entertaining throughout and damn did they make the most of the space they had! I was impressed with what they did with props and stage sets! an evening well spent and I know everyone in there agreed because the whole theatre was alight with laughter and cheers! beautiful vocals from everyone on stage and thoroughly amusing script! what a way to end the week!

1 of 1 found helpful

I didn’t really know what to expect from this show, I haven’t seen anything from Mischief Theatre before so wasn’t sure what I’d let myself in for– but I’m sorry I ever doubted A Comedy About A Bank Robbery now! The comedy is very fitting for an English audience, I’m not too sure all the gags would be as easily understood by a tourist but I could be wrong - it’s farcical, witty, slapstick humour and though it may be downright silly and ridiculous at times even the cheapest of puns manage to steal an audience wide roaring laugh.

Though I must admit from the first scene I wasn’t convinced whether I was going to get into it or not, it was like being thrown into the deep end as there is no real introduction to what’s happening but I kept and open mind and stuck with it, I think you almost relax into it as the story unwinds all the pieces fit together - I soon realised you have to give it time as the characters establish themselves and draw you in as the story builds brilliantly so before you know it I was engrossed. The puns are endless, the ridiculous tomfoolery escalates and us in absolute fits of laughter on multiple occasions – I’m even giggling away to myself reminiscing as I write this now! I was surprised by just how small the cast was - they have their work cut out but they deliver the performance slick and efficiently, this is no mean feat especially considered the script is very wordy and well thought-out, as well as with all theatre the timings are essential with comedy in particular. I also was rather impressed by the brief musical numbers, on paper this sounds as though it shouldn’t work, although they manage to pulls it off without coming across as too cheesy. I won’t give any spoilers but without a shadow of a doubt the scene that made it for me was the bedroom, it was just so perfectly choreographed and really captivated us as the audience and established relationships with the characters. The was also an extraordinary gravity defying scene which had me scratching my head for a minute as to how it was achieved but it quite quickly becomes apparent – very funny indeed!

The audience was a varied demographic and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. So if you’re thinking of going to see this please do yourself a favour and catch it whilst you have the chance, you’ll only regret it otherwise! It goes without saying I am now desperate to see The Play That Goes Wrong!!
1 of 1 found helpful

Most comedians would hate to be labelled the funniest in town (as the audience will immediately be up in arms), the team behind Mischief Theatre stood up to the plate and made a home-run.

While by no means a perfect show, it's highly entertaining with delightful scenes that will hold you for days. The show is a slow starter as it acquaints you with numerous characters, and sets up various running gags. The early puns can be slightly tedious, if not cringe-worthy. However these are rightly forgotten as the show picks up mid way through the first half.

The biggest con of the play is not stealing the diamond, but making the audience fall in love with the otherwise unlikeable characters on paper. It's a true testament to the chemistry and charisma of the cast. The intimate venue was utilised perfectly allowing the audience to appreciate the highly choreographed scenes, as well as (not so) subtle expressions from the actors.

Curiously set in mid-century middle of 'merica (perhaps to make the screwball plot more believable?), it's not hard to imagine a film adaptation reuniting Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the main protagonists - breaking easily into song, along with its cheese-ball lines.

The most underrated aspect of the play is its incredible set design. It's cleaver, and charming, taking a prominent role without ever stealing the spotlight. The piece is a visual feast, jammed packed with too many gags to mention.

This review was done on a complimentary TimeOut ticket, but would happily pay for the experience. It's bound to be a classic.

No animals were harmed in the making of this play (I hope).

1 of 1 found helpful

This has to be the funniest play I have ever seen, and yes, I've seen the Book of Mormon which I actually think is over-hyped. This is basically a farce comedy mixing what's great in Airplane, Bottom and classics such as Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors and bringing those gags bang up to date set in a 50s town in America where a small town bank is given the opportunity to look after an expensive jewel. This is also a town full of clever and not-so-clever crooks, leading to some hilarious scenes of misunderstanding, mistaken identity and general tomfoolery. It moves along at a blistering pace with clever and lightning-speed set and costume changes and (thankfully brief) musical interludes. This is not to say they are bad, it's just that they are just the right length to segue into new scenes or during montage moments. There's also some great physical acting in here too, and a particularly brain-bending gravity defying scene that has to be seen to be believed. I had to rub my eyes to work out what I was actually looking at, then spent the next 7 minutes crying with laughter. I have never laughed so hard in the theatre and came out feeling high. I was hyper-ventilating! I can't recommend this highly enough. Go see, and don't worry about what seat you sit in. The Criterion theatre is small enough that everyone can see, even up in the rafters!

2 of 3 found helpful

Maybe I missed something, but I don't agree with all the rave reviews. Very much a slap-stick comedy with the cheesiest puns, I cringed throughout most of it. Both my friend and I were giving each other looks as I was looking forward to it, but severely disappointed. Chuckled at a few scenes, and the second half was better than the first, but overall I was less than impressed. 

1 of 2 found helpful

I heard such great things about this play, and for a family with older children this play is perfect - silly but not too smutty. Mistaken identity and double entendre can only go so far though and it felt like an old 80's family comedy like Faulty Towers or Dads Army. I did enjoy this performance as a fun slapstick night in the theatre. 

The musical interludes between were some of the best parts of me - all the cast were singing acapela versions of 50's songs in a barber shop quartet style. Charlie Russel kept the show going with her perfect comic timing and physical theatre and Nancy Wallinger as the bank clerk had the most amazing voice! 

The set design could teach a thing or two to other west end shows.  The simple yet effect design which moved rapidly between the different situations was perfectly executed. 

If you can get cheap tickets and want a fun light hearted evening at the theatre this is perfect choice!

1 of 2 found helpful

I would love to give this one a zero star review.  It's the stupidest thing I've ever had the misfortune of seeing.  It's as if 8 year olds made up a hilarious joke (for other 8 year olds) and keep on and on with the same one-note joke long after they've wrung any humor out of it (and there was precious little to begin with).  The continual "misunderstanding" of one character's name gets old fast, but they KEEP ON repeating it, as if it will get funnier the longer it goes on.  It doesn't.  Plus the strange "musical interludes" just add nothing (even if the female lead does have a spectacular voice).  The "mistaken identity" of three characters that look nothing alike is also mystifyingly supposed to be funny.  As is the sight of cast members waving around stuffed seagulls.  I just don't get it at all.  Stupid from beginning to end.  I enjoyed "The Play That Goes Wrong" and had high hopes for this one, but it's definitely a bomb.

1 of 2 found helpful

I was taken to this play - having enjoyed The Play That Went Wrong - by a friend for free, and must say that it was worth every penny I paid.

If you want to see a poor rip-off of Graham Chapman's self-boxing sketch, a couple of fairly good variations on Abbott & Costello's "Hu-Yu" exchange and then have your ears assaulted for two hours by shouting masquerading as delivery, this is the play for you.  The bedroom scene in the first half is top-rate farce, and succeeds because you can actually hear what the actors are saying. This is regrettably not true for many of the other scenes.  With practice, the cast will learn not to throw away the good lines you can hear and will further refine the excellent timing the play requires.

Still, judging by the audience reception on Press Night, it will no doubt run for months and tour for years and be hailed as a classic of the genre - perhaps it's just a sign of the Zeit-heist.

I found this show very amusing. Before i wasn't so keen on theatre shows but this show changed my mind, the actors were good, the setting was good and the atmosphere was great. If you like slapstick comedies, i would definitely recommend this theatre show. I am looking forward to seeing more shows that the Mischief Theatre have made.

If you love puns, this is hands down the best show you will ever see. If you like (literal) slapstick comedy- including extended scenes of actual slapping of people with sticks- run, don't walk to the Criterion Theatre. This show definitely has a target audience and for them it was a riot, but this two and a half hour cheesefest was not for me. The acting was stiff and disjointed and its only redeeming quality was the clever 'birds eye' scene which did elicit a genuine laugh or two. My friend and I cringed throughout and exchanged several eye rolls, but that having been said the teenagers behind us were laughing, so it may resonate with you.

I am a big fan of all productions of the Mischief Theatre, The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and now The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, running in Criterion. From December we will have in West End Magic Goes Wrong in Vaudeville.

I find all productions of this company very entertaining, where you go for a good laugh and a few hours of joy.

The Robbery is not an exception. This was my second time I went to see this comedy and I laughed second time no less than the first. I have read some reviews saying that it wasn't very funny. Well, I thought it was hilarious! Please don't expect refined, meaningful intelligent jokes, not that type of laugh. Jokes are silly and predictable but they are literally non-stop and left me in stitches. There are also a few laughable inventive gags, like when actors remain vertical but are suddenly seen from above; or foldable bed and a love triangle. I am very much looking forward to the new Magic comedy.

Brought by the same team behind "A play that goes wrong", I had big expectations of stomach cramping laughter. Unfortunately, "The Comedy About A Bank Robbery" didn't quite hit the mark Initially I thought it may have just been me, but reading all the other reviews, I'm glad I'm not alone.

It took a very long time for me to get used to the slapstick humour, once you accept it for what it is, just before half-time, the comedy factor picks up, giving you hope for a grand finale, which the second half never delivers. 

There is definitely a risk when putting 'comedy' in the title - the audience expects a lot of big laughs (or at least I did!)

The acting wasn't the best, and the humour was generally very outdated and slapstick - it almost felt pantomime, except for there was no audience interaction.

The musical interludes and some of the other 'stunts' were really well choreographed, and the singing was really good, but overall it felt like while there was a lot of skill there, it was just let down by a poor storyline and cliche 'comedy'.

A very silly, sometimes cringey slapstick style comedy which is a great evening out! This play has a great and clever set design and the actors make it a joy to watch with their energetic performances. If you like to laugh out loud and want a night at the theatre that doesn't take itself to seriously then this is the one for you.

Much like the other people on the feed have said - this is a classic slapstick comedy, which lends itself to lewd jokes, repetition of them and a lot of screaming. The plot was a little weak/cliche and at times the comedy was completely wasted on me. HOWEVER, I realise that this is the style/genre of performance, so if you've seen similar ones before that you liked then you'll love this. 

Watch out for the unbelievable set design - that was hands down the best bit for me. Also, watch out for the sketchy sketchy American accents - they were also unbelievable. 

This is not high brow humour by any stretch but it isn’t non stop comedy that had the audience laughing throughout. Some of the gags were a tad too obvious for my tastes but occasionally a gem did Feature and I did find myself smiling throughout and chuckling every now and then.

It features a lot of slapstick so if that’s not your thing then this is maybe one to miss.

The cast were good throughout but for me it was the set itself that steals the show. Clever changes, inventive set pieces and good use of random items and cast members to demonstrate scenes. That side of things did impress me.

The Criterion theatre is pretty impressive too. All below ground yet doesn’t feel in any way claustrophobic and instead was wuite spacious. Unusually decked out with tiled walls not unlike the underground stations too. Lovely.

In the balcony seats there are the ocadsiobsl columns that obscure certain seat views though so that’s slightly annoying.

Classic slapstick style comedy. Many laugh out loud moments and zero seriousness. Perfect for a post work evening.

The set design and movement of this is great, I am big fan of clever sets and one of my favourite moments is in the 2nd act with the stage turning upside down almost!

Worth a laugh but don’t go expecting anything serious now. Look out for the seagulls

I love this show, I've seen it once already and going again. 

There's a few people who have left bad reviews on this but I'm not really sure what they expect, honestly it's like someone going to watch Formula 1 and then complaining it was too loud. 

It's a slapstick comedy that gets everyone laughing from beginning to end. It's not a highbrow sophisticated drama, so don't expect it to be!

Plenty of funny gags, impressive scenes and comedic acting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show, the theatre was filled with laughter from start to end. I like slapstick comedy style and thought that acting was brilliant. There were a few scenes which was exceptional and innovative.

It’s a great way to end the week, where you are guaranteed to be laughing throughout the show.

What a great show, I laughed from start to finish. The show had been brought as a Christmas Family outing and was most definitely enjoyed by all. The slap tick comedy was thoroughly enjoyable making light of a botched bank robbery. The tickets seemed relatively cheap so would snap them up whilst they are available. This is also in the criterion – my favourite theatre in London.

I went in expecting not to like this show, expecting to awkwardly laugh along because 'it's a fun night out' but really be cringing and recoiling inside. The name alone made me sceptical - can a self proclaimed 'comedy' ever really been funny? well, yes it can. This show really proved me wrong. The slapstick comedy style along with the 1920s America backdrop, with some soul tunes thrown in, made for a surprisingly charming show. 

This type of show normally isn't my thing but I have happily recommended it. If you're expecting West End greats standards then, yes you will be disappointed. But for an evening of out loud laughs, physical comedy and great singing that will leave you with a silly smile on your face - this how certainly does the job!

The show is light-hearted comedy about some very unprofessional criminals and their attempts to rob a bank (as the name suggests!). The storyline is pretty basic (or weak), and falls into general stereotypes. I enjoyed it (somewhat), however it is a slapstick comedy that involves lewd jokes and lots of repetition and screaming. It’s not bad but it’s not for everyone.

Despite the fairly unimaginative title, this is fortunately not reflected on the play itself which is both hilarious and creative.

The story (about a bank robbery of course) is quite original with some interesting characters in the play. Being a light-hearted comedy I think they can get away with the somewhat two-dimensional characters because it doesn’t really take anything away from the humour. Set in an American town where crime is rife, we follow an escaped convicts elaborate but poorly thought out plot to rob his girlfriend’s father’s bank with hilarious consequences.

There is a fair amount of slapstick comedy which isn’t really my cup of tea so there are times when they play the same unfunny joke over and over again in an attempt to get some cheap laughs. However, this can be forgiven because of some genuinely laugh out loud moments scattered through the play.

The set design is creatively thought out including my particular favourite involving a “bird’s eye view” scene inside the bank requiring the actors to be tied to the wall and “walking” around on harnesses. And those of you in the cheap seats needn’t worry too much because despite the restricted view the theatre has installed TV screens and cameras so you can always see what is going on.

I went in fully prepared to be unimpressed, but a weekday matinee ticket isn't expensive and the theatre was maybe 20% full. It was apparent early on that the script was inspired by old Abbott and Costello - style quick and silly dialogue, then warmed up to have a lot of physical comedy, pratfalls, no trousers, and didn't aim for high-brow beard stroking. And sometimes that unbridled silliness is just what we all need. Don't expect to take it in any way seriously, just come for the ride and let go into it.

I've given it five stars which is slightly generous just because sometimes the tone is uneven - British sex farce, circus-grade effects, silly set pieces, genuinely great production design... But if you let that inconsistency go, it's a wonderful couple of hours of entertainment.

Bar and ice cream prices are very fair, by the way, considering the location of the gorgeous Criterion Theatre. Beer is a fiver, ice cream £2.50, both good quality. If you've got £20 in your pocket you can get a show, a pint, an ice cream and still have money over. Why wouldn't you?

The first act was slapstick and almost a farce.

Then the second act happened with an AMAZING SET. And the play get less slapstick and show a little wit...

It's surprisingly funny and we laughed non stop.

But maybe it's because there was a woman sitting behind us who enjoyed herself and laughed at everything.

Her enthusiasm was so infectious we thought she was hired by the theatre!


The Comedy About a Bank Robbery was absolutely hysterical! I was crying with laughter throughout the whole show and the rest of the audience seemed to be in the same boat. The format is different than The Play That Goes Wrong, this show is just a genuinely silly show rather than one that's falling apart before your eyes. The title says it all about the premise and all of the actors were fantastic. I cannot recommend this show enough, all ages were loving it and I haven't laughed that much in a very long time!

one of the most surprising and unbelievably funny plays I've ever seen and I recommend it to everyone.

The set is absolutely unbelievable and the cast is phenomenal.

I wasn't 100% sure about it in the first scene but this play just got better as it went on. Very silly humour and a lot of fun! 

I'm a fan of what Mischief Theatre did with The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, so I went into The Comedy About A Bank Robbery with expectations. Where Peter Pan Goes Wrong was very much The Play That Goes Wrong 2,  The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is a whole new thing. Well, almost. There's no play within a play, and it's a decidedly less British affair, but the same brand of humour has been successfully carried over. The wordplay, the absurd (not to mention ambitious) physical comedy, and general silliness had me grinning from ear to ear.

Staff Writer

After seeing The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, this is a breakaway from their successful play within a play formula and, surprisingly, set in backwater America. And though it was refreshing it was a little to on the nose for me. It was a lot of fun with a few laugh out loud moments, but I didn't walk away thinking I had just seen a masterpiece of comedy. The acting was great for the most part and some of the stunts were superb but I wouldn't rush to see it again or recommend it to my friends.


Slapstick and screwball comedy is certainly the genre of West End theatre in 2016. This show contains both, the sets are fabulous and there are a few brilliant one liners. However, generally I found the comedy laboured and some of the jokes outstayed their humour. The physical elements were fantastic and the energy of the show was great, but if you have the option you should see one of their other plays. "The play that goes wrong" is done by the same company, and although "The play about the Bank Robbery" is pretty good, that show is in much the same vein but even better!


Much funnier than the play that goes wrong! I really enjoyed this - very funny puns, great acting. A couple of scenes possibly went on a bit too long, but it all added to the humour!

The truth is I have never been in a theatre to see a comedy. Although I love musical. But I always fear that I would not understand the British humor in the comedy and would get bored easily. So when I received the tickets to see The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. I did not know what to expected but thought everything has the first time.

First of all, I think the Criterion Theatre itself is a perfect backdrop for the story. Located in the central London. Just next to the busiest Piccadilly Circus. Stepping in and you have to walk down a few staircases to get into the seats, just like you would walking down a vault in a bank. The theatre its refurbishing at the moment but still looking very pretty with all the large mirrors in the hallway. 

My seat was located at the side of the dress circle. The view of the stage was good. I can see very clearly as at some point the actors climb high and acted at the different angle. The stage is smaller than I expected but all the space and props are well organised. The story is also well constructed. And it did make me laugh with the crowd. Recommended if you want a lighthearted fun night out with some silly but not too cheesy jokes.  


This show is a real treat - one of the funniest plays I have had the fortune of seeing. I have to admit that most of the comedy is what I would refer to as 'silly comedy'. Very stap-stick, much like Bottom, Faulty Towers and Monty Python so if you're a fan of any of these, you'll be wetting yourself with laughter in minutes. It starts off quite slow, but picks up well, and without spoiling any of it for you all, the bedroom scene (no, not like that - mind's out of the gutter people) is my absolute favourite, which had me close to crying with laughter!

It's highly entertaining and I salute the cast for having to play (and remember the lines) of many characters! Even the set is well thought out, with the props and buildings genuinely looking like they should. None of this abstract art here, just a great comedy show, which I would recommend to all!

Mischief Theatre first came into my life in 2013 on a trip to Edinburgh at one of the first ever performances of The Play that Goes Wrong. A self-made company who have got where they are today (e.g. Selling out shows day after day in the West End) on sheer talent and tenacity. I loved their first show so much I went to see it three times taking friends and family along to what I described as 'the funniest show I have seen in my life'. I was extremely excited to hear about this new play but perhaps a little worried that it wouldn't be as good.

Mischief Theatre have achieved a second hit however simply by going in a completely different direction. In many ways The Comedy about A Bank Robbery is much more of a traditional farce than the slapstick The Play that Goes Wrong. The Characters and story are certainly far more developed.

They benefit as well from a bigger production budget, this feels more properly 'west end'. They use every opportunity this affords them to their full advantage from the spot on 50s costumes to an incredible set piece which sees actor perform upside on down in harnesses to appear as if they are being viewed from above.

As ever however the thing that really sets Mischief Theatre apart is there creative finesse in both physical and verbal comedy. From cases of mistaken identity involving a fair amount of accidental nudity, dexterous wordplay and a rollicking story that keeps twisting until the very last minute their new show is endlessly entertaining.

These guys have been acting together for years and it shows. Cutting their teeth at sell out improv show Lights Camera Improvise at Edinburgh they are masters of group work creating scene after scene of energetic, perfectly timed action packed comedy with seemingly no effort.

It's hard to find a bunch of more talented, colourful and witty actors anywhere but if their shows have a fault it is that they can be a bit relentlessly hilarious, all the laughter gets a bit tiring after a while.

Nevertheless its difficult to imagine someone who wouldn't enjoy this effortlessly fun show, granny, grandma and cousin Dave will all laugh until they drop.

I saw this with my parents and we all really loved it. Very funny, highly recommended!


I laughed until I cried. If you like The Mischief Theatre Group or slapstick in general, make sure you get a ticket. The writers  are so clever and quick witted I am sure I missed jokes as I was laughing so much as the previous ones. The plot feels almost predictable whilst also being utterly ridiculous but takes a few twists in the way and the whole concept is comedy gold. Yes, there are ridiculously hammy American accents, a mish-mash of styles and scenes but it just works so well.  I will follow everything they do and I hope to catch this show again before the end of its run. If you appreciate absolute ridiculousness be sure not to miss it. 

Totally fantastic! A great performance. We laughed all the way through! At moments it reminded me of Faulty Towers - with hysterical moments escalating so far you can't not laugh (think Manuel!). Definitely something i'd love to see made into a TV series. I miss this very British humour. 

In tears of laughter at the Play that goes wrong and equally exhausted after Peter Pan, this was good, but just off the other two. Stealing a laugh often though. Caper, bafoonery and error always make for a comic performance and there was plenty here, as I've come to expect. As always the diverse cast played with gusto and if like me, you now know their strengths, the experience is stronger. Fake American accents not so go others comment above... That's part of the make up!? Thoroughly recommended as a stand a lone performance and much of the same if you've seen these guys before. The small cast and amateur folly of the performance, their trade marks, are human and understood empathetically by the audience. Remember that these reviews are from the preview week! A great ticket!

Not for saddos!....turn up in-grumpy and you will love it!

It's clever, slick, and very very funny.

Loved it. Totally different from Play That Goes Wrong but funny in a different way. Don't go expecting the same thing or you may be disappointed.

In my opinion it was there best work having seen both the play and peter pan that went wrong plus one of their improv evenings. I laughed so much I could barely breathe at some parts and it was nice change to see the story not framed by the amateur dramatics society joke element. I would happily go again.

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I am afraid I agree with Graham. Having thoroughly enjoyed “The Play That Goes Wrong” I was looking forward to this new production by the same team. The plot has steered away from another 'amateur production disaster', which is good, but I felt the resultant reliance on verbal comedy was forced in places. The fake American accents were difficult to accept; as was the improbable story-line, although that is farce I suppose. On the plus side, the inventive use of stage craft and the physical comedy that the team excel in lifted the production and produced some of the best laughs. Over all my wife and I came away somewhat confused – we can't say we especially liked it but we were not exactly disappointed either. It was obvious from the audience reaction and some comments we overheard that it split the crowd too. I suppose we should take into account our expectations, which were high after The Play That Goes Wrong. This production is not as good, or as clever. Forget TPTGW, this is best enjoyed as a stand alone farce.

The poster with the bank robbers in black carrying TNT is totally misleading by the way but I suggest you go see the play to find out why.

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