“THE best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley” – that line from Robert Burns poem To a Mouse just about sums up the problems that befall Mitch Ruscitti when, with the help of an incompetent Warder, he escapes from prison with one aim, to steal a priceless diamond from a Bank run by his girl friends Father.
This latest offering from Mischief Theatre, which already contains A Play that Goes Wrong, and a production of Peter Pan that suffers the same hilarious fate, sets its stall out in the first scene this wonderful team of player’s of farcical comedy involve themselves in verbal gymnastics as the majority of those on stage take almost every word on its literal meaning.
This routine,and several other verbal battles that occur during the play sound so easy in these skilled hands, but like the physical comedy that goes hand in hand with this dialogue it require spot on timing and terrific team work if it is to succeed. In common with the great farceur’s of the past who for many years inhabited the Aldwych and later the Whitehall Theatre’s this company have now honed this comedy timing and teamwork down to a fine art. As yet they do not create such memorable characters as Ralph Lynn,Tom Walls and Co, did at the Aldwych or Brian Rix and his company at the Whitehall, but they have got to the stage where the milk every last drop of comedy from the dialogue and farcical situation they find themselves in.
They have added some excellent harmony singing, and a couple of very enjoyable solo efforts from Ashley Tucker, to their bows for this play, but for all that and their verbal dexterity it is till the physical comedy that brings the greatest response from the audience. At one stage we have three Bank Managers on stage at the same time, all in turn finding themselves minus their trousers. The timing and sound effects as the proper Bank Manager Damian Lynch and his security officer Killian Macardle take it in turns to batter Jon Trenchard’s poor diffident bank clerk about the head with a cane, large ledger and on a desk top is a master class of comic timing.
Jon Trenchard also finds himself unceremoniously bundled into a tiny cupboard in the big set piece within Caprice, the bank managers daughter’s flat, where mistaken identity and near misses overlap to produce some fast paced comedy. While Liam Jeavons dull witted bullying Mitch tries to make sense of it all his girlfriend Caprice, Julia Frith, twists herself into knots miming behind his back trying to get information to the more and more frantic Sean Carey, Sam her new love,who at this time is pretending to be her bank manager father.
Don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the twists and turns of the plot, as wall beds open and shut at their own will trapping people inside, hide in trunks, hang on to window sills high above the ground attacked by marauding Sea Gulls, not to mention Jon Trenchard’s put upon clerk folded like an old news paper in that cupboard, its all done with one aim in mind to fill the theatre with laughter.
Add to this a scene where the actors literally hang from the scenery, and another where they show the dexterity of circus performers on ropes and you will gather that there is plenty of physical comedy to go with verbal fun. Not every idea hits the comedy bulls eye and there are a few places where the show looses momentum, but for the most part achieves its aim of providing a fun filled entertaining evening at the theatre.