A Comedy about a Bank Robbery, Bristol Hippodrome

AS part of an audience I’m a nightmare as far as anyone presenting comedy is concerned, because even when I’m enjoying the comedy very much, I rarely laugh out loud.

Mischief Theatre’s production of The Play That Went Wrong was an exception to that rule, their wonderfully-timed mimed comedy forcing guffaws of laughter from me throughout the evening. It was therefore with eager anticipation that I approached this show only to find that although there were some outstanding mimed sequences on offer, the comedy emphasis was this time shared more evenly with the spoken word.

Working, as they always do, wonderfully well as a team, the company handled the dialogue with the same good timing that they showed in the mime, but a mixture of fast-delivered strong American accents, and the fact that the vast spaces of the Bristol Hippodrome stage does not lend itself readily to intimate dialogue, meant that not all the verbal comedy targets were hit in centre of the bullseye. It will be interesting to see if this part of the show fares better when it is presented on the more intimate Bath Theatre Royal stage at the end of April.

The mimed comedy was once again top class, Julia Frith getting more and more frantic as she tries to keep her new love Sam (played with confused naivety by Sean Carey) out of the clutches of her violent jailbird ex, Liam Jeavons.
The enquiring eyes of her bigoted father, Damian Lynch, within the confines of her bedroom with its collapsible wall bed and body hidden in the cupboard, was a comic delight. That body belonged to Jon Trenchard as the continually put-upon 67-year-old clerk Warren Slax, himself the recipient of a perfectly-timed comedy routine in which Damian Lynch and Killian Macardle, as the dumb cop Officer Shuck, bounced Warren’s head off of a desk, large book and cane as if it were a rubber ball.

David Comber produced a fine hybrid of a character in Neil Cooper, who by taking words at their literal meaning caused many sets of verbal confusion, and matched this with some excellent pieces if mime.

An added bonus was bursts of music with the company showing that they were as adept at close harmony as they were at comedy and Ashley Tucker giving notice that, if Mischief Theatre’s next move is into the world of the musical, she has the equipment to take a leading role.

The teamwork of this company is underlined by George Hannigan being described in the programme as Everyone Else and indeed he, like the rest of the team, selflessly slipped in and out off the spotlight as required at speed with perfect timing. He was probably one of the many bodies in a late scene that challenged the end of Hamlet in body count.

Much then to enjoy and if you have never seen The Play That Goes Wrong, definitely one to rank high in entertainment value. If you have seen that show, then try to put the memory aside and judge this show on its own merits.


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