Posts Tagged ‘henry lewis’


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.)


Read Full Post »

Halfway through act one of The Play That Goes Wrong, my stomach was aching from laughing so hard.  During the interval, a woman told me that her makeup had washed off, because she had been crying with laughter.  After the show, walking from the theatre, a woman holding her show programme stopped another woman also holding a programme, and the two of them talked about how funny the performance was.  Anyone who has seen The Play That Goes Wrong will be able to understand these reactions, because it is, truly hilarious.

Written and performed by the Mischief Theatre Company, the entire show is a play called A Murder at Haversham Hall, put on by the Cornley Polytechnic Amateur  Dramatic Society.  And as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong does.  The show starts with the director coming on stage to address the audience.  He explains how good it is to have a play where there are enough cast members to fill all the roles (making references to previous productions such as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cat’ or their previous staging of ‘The Lion and the Wardrobe’).

The gags come so thick and fast, with collapsing sets, fumbled lines, cast members being knocked out cold, that it was barely possible to recover from one laughing fit before another one comes along.  Greg Tannahill played Jonathan Harris, who in turn played murder victim Charles Haversham, who has to endure people treading on his hand and  a stretcher which breaks under his weight, causing him to have to try and slide unobtrusively off the stage, amongst other humiliations, and like the rest of the cast, he was wonderful.  Charlie Russell was excellent as a wannabe sex symbol, and the completely inappropriately grief less fiancee of the murder victim.  Nancy Wallinger shone in her role as a harassed stage manager, battling valiantly with a falling down set, and eventually being forced to take over one of the main roles.  I also loved Dave Hearn, as Max, a young actor who is clearly over-awed at appearing on stage, and Jonathan Sayer as a hammy actor who unsurreptitously checks his hands where he has written words he has trouble pronouncing.  Henry Shields and Henry Lewis play Chris – the show’s director who also plays the part of the Inspector sent to investigate the murder, and Robert – who plays an old friend of the murder victim, and they too were terrific.  And Rob Falconer, who played Trevor the stage manager, was also superbly funny.

Prior to the show, Nancy Wallinger and Rob Falconer, in their respective characters, can be seen trying in vain to fix the crumbling scenery, and even got an audience member to come on stage to help.  During the interval, Rob – as Trevor – ran through the audience looking for a dog named Winston (who makes an extremely non-appearance during the play, but does get to take his curtain call at the end).

Of course, the play that the amateur dramatic company are performing is totally unsubtle, and the terrible acting (which is actually demonstrative of the actual cast’s wonderful talents) doesn’t help, and this all adds to the fun.

The audience at Wolverhampton Grand was rocked with laughter throughout, and everybody left with huge smiles on their faces.  I will definitely be looking out for more productions by the Mischief Theatre Company, and urge everybody to try and catch this wonderful show, which is touring before moving back to London’s West End.

Simply wonderful – I loved every minute.

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

Read Full Post »