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Posts Tagged ‘chris leask’

show_thecomedyaboutabankrobbery

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is the third play from the masterminds that are the Mischief Theatre Company, following the successes of (the Olivier award winning) The Play That Goes Wrong, and (the Olivier award nominated) Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

This latest play is something of a departure from the format, as unlike the other two productions, this is not a play-within-a-play; it is however as jaw-achingly funny as the previous two plays, proving once again that this theatre company are an incredibly talented group of writers and actors.

So here goes with the story:- It is set in 1958 in Minneapolis, and Robin Freeboys (played by scriptwriter and actor Henry Lewis) is manager of a quiet bank which just happens to house a huge diamond owned by a Hungarian prince. Robin’s daughter Caprice (Charlie Russell) collects boyfriends – usually for whatever money she can fleece out of them – and sets her sights on Sam (Dave Hearn), a young con artist, who is also the son of Ruth (Nancy Wallinger)…who just happens to work for Robin Freeboys at the bank! Matters get even more complicated when Caprice’s boyfriend Mitch (scriptwriter and actor Henry Shields) escapes from prison with a plan to steal the diamond from the bank…

What ensues is a comedy caper full of slapstick, double entendres and plays on words (what would you expect with a character called Robin Freeboys?!) and mistaken identities. One of my favourite scenes was when Sam meets Mitch and has to pretend to be Caprice’s father – I was literally crying with laughter at the incredible performances of Dave Hearn and Charlie Russell.

The whole cast were absolutely spot on and seemed to be having a whale of a time with their roles – kudos to Gareth Tempest, understudy to Jonathan Sayer, and who played the role of eternal intern Warren Slax. It was no small part but Tempest handled it beautifully. Henry Shields and Greg Tannahill were also terrific as Mitch and his hapless associate Cooper. And then there’s Chris Leask, listed in the programme as playing ‘Everybody Else’. No exaggeration here either – he takes on multiple roles with apparent ease, and has a great scene to himself at the beginning of the second half where he shows off a great talent for physical comedy.

This play is absolutely not a musical, but there are some great doo-wop numbers involved during set changes (Nancy Wallinger, take a bow – what an amazing singing voice you have!), which serve to illustrate the time period. And talking of set changes, there is one part of the action which is incredibly clever and daring in its perspective and the way the scene is staged. I don’t want  to give away any spoilers, but it is intended to show Freeboys and Salx from above, and the way it is done is simply ingenious.

Quite honestly, there is nothing at all about this show that I could fault. I loved every minute of it, and the audience around me all seemed to be of the same opinion. I hope this production runs and runs, and I urge everyone to go and see it!

(For more information about the Mischief Theatre Company, or this production, please click here.)

 

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Nobody can claim that the title of this play didn’t let them know what to expect!  From the fabulously talented people at the Mischief Theatre Company, and following the success of their genuinely hilarious The Play That Goes Wrong (which is still currently showing at the Duchess Theatre in London, and which won a Ticketmaster Award for Best New Comedy), comes Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

The good people at Cornley Polytechnic Amateur Dramatic Society are staging a “traditional Christmas vignette” (it’s NOT a pantomime, as Chris Bean (played in real life by Laurence Pears) who takes on the roles of Mr Darling and Captain Hook) irritably informs the audience – who naturally respond with “Oh yes it is!”

However, nothing goes right – from scenery that breaks or malfunctions, to one character forgetting his lines and needing an earpiece which picks up local radio, to characters getting their lines mixed up, the play is doomed to failure from the beginning.  But never has getting something wrong felt so right, or been so funny (well, except for in The Play That Goes Wrong obviously).

There were laughs from start to finish, and the whole thing was so cleverly written and put together that it’s easy to forget just how talented the writers and performers in this production have to be to put this together, and to make it look spontaneous.  (It must be incredibly hard to deliberately get so much so wrong).  Leonie Hill played main actress Sandra, who in turn played Wendy Darling, complete with with dramatic and hammy over-acting, while Naomi Sheldon played Annie Twilloil, who had the taxing job of playing four different characters throughout the play.  Alex Bartram played the egotistical Jonathan Harris, who took the part of Peter Pan himself, while sweet Max Bennett (playing the crocodile and Nana the dog) was ably played by Matt Cavendish, and certainly got the audience rooting for him!  The cast was rounded out by Cornelius Booth playing Cornley’s oldest member Robert Grove, who by some misfortune or other has ended up in the part of one of the Darling brothers – complete with bald head and bushy beard; James Marlowe as Dennis Tyde, who needed the aforementioned earpiece; Chris Leask as hapless sound engineer and impromptu Peter Pan Trevor Watson; Harry Kershaw as Francis Beaumont, who took on the dual roles of Smee the Pirate, and the narrator of the whole sorry affair; and Rosie Graham as young Lucy Grove, who was a stuttering – and eventually wheelchair bound – Tootles.  Each and every cast member was terrific – there really was not a weak link among them.

The stage was a revolving set, which naturally would not stop revolving when it was supposed to, and which provided for an uproariously funny, chaotic ending, which must have taken some real working out.  The audience were in stitches throughout, and any fears that I had had that I might be disappointed in Peter Pan Goes Wrong after the sheer hilarity of The Play That Goes Wrong, were soon dispelled.

Suffice to say that Mischief Theatre Company have got a fan for life, and I will definitely be going to see anything that they put on in future.  If you need a good belly laugh, get yourself along to one of their shows – you won’t be disappointed!

(For more information about Mischief Theatre Company, or Peter Pan Goes Wrong, please click here.)

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