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Theatre / The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

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"It's like I always say; everyone in this town's a crook."
Ruth Monaghan
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The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is a caper play from Mischief Theatre, the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Unlike those plays, its humour does not come from mistakes in making the play, but it uses the theatre for comedy in other ways.

In Minneapolis, 1958, a priceless diamond belonging to the Crown Jewels of Hungary has been deposited for safe keeping in the City Bank. But convict Mitch Ruscitti, recently escaped from British Columbia Penitentiary, has his eyes on the diamond. Aiding him are his trickster girlfriend, a bent (and stupid) prison guard, and some guy he doesn't know. But this is a town where everyone's a crook.


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The Comedy About a Bank Robbery contains examples of

  • Air-Vent Passageway: The crooks use one to get into the bank vault.
  • Bank Robbery: The entire plot.
  • Brick Joke: Freeboys tells Warren at the beginning that taking your glasses off while lying to someone makes you seem more truthful. Near the end, when he tells Warren that he likes him as he's about to die, Freeboys removes his glasses... then puts them back on and says it again.
  • Butt-Monkey: Warren gets the most of the abuse, both physically and psychologically.
  • Closet Shuffle: In the chaos at Caprice’s apartment.
  • Curtain Camouflage: At Caprice’s apartment.
  • Driven to Suicide: Warren, after realising he has no friends.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a play about a bank robbery, but it's an intentionally funny one, so it's specifically a comedy about a bank robbery.
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  • Exact Words: as Ruth says, this is a town where everyone’s a crook. Unfortunately for Officer Shuck, that includes Ruth.
  • Gravity Screw: While the crooks are in the air-vent, we see what they see: a bird's-eye view of the bank office. In reality, this is the actors playing Warren and Mr Freeboys defying gravity on the back wall. In-universe, things go very weird for the characters as simple tasks like pouring a coffee or throwing a piece of paper in the bin become bizarrely difficult.
  • Kicking My Own Butt / Talking to Himself: In one scene, Caprice's three paramours meet, argue and fight. Since all three are roles for "Everyone Else", this means one very busy actor having the stage to himself.
  • Kiss of Distraction: the final punchline, with Ruth kissing - and handcuffing - Officer Shuck
  • Large Ham: While Sam does a reasonable effort at imitating Freeboys when he's disguised as him, Cooper behaves as if he was acting in a tragedy when having to do the same.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: Every actor plays at least three roles in the play. In fact, one is officially credited as "Everyone Else".
  • Open Secret: Everyone (including the warden and all of the guards) knows about Mitch’s escape plan. And they all think they’re going to be part of his gang for the robbery. It doesn’t work out that way.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Sam and Cooper are both implausibly disguised as Mr Freeboys. Aside from one pair of missing pants, nobody else can tell the three of them apart.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: Caprice uses a fake hump under her clothes to trick one of her paramours into sending money for baby supplies. This hump later allows her to sneak a power drill into the bank to help pull off the heist.
  • Porn Stache: The increasingly ludicrous moustaches of Officer Shuck’s superiors.
  • Punny Name: The play gets a lot of mileage out of Freeboys.
  • Running Gag: The seagulls attacking people whenever someone opens a window.
  • Scolding the Fourth-Wall Breaker: The punchline to the first half of the air-vent scene. After Warren fails to defy gravity, acknowledging that the characters are actually halfway up a vertical wall, Freeboys - entirely unaffected by ‘real’ gravity - mocks him and simply slides his chair over to another desk.
  • 6 Is 9: The code for deactivating the alarm is 6996, as Sam learns while dangling upside down. He needs to flip over to be able to use the keypad.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: It’s still a comedy, but towards the end it gets a bit darker after Mitch suddenly kills Cooper and a few other characters follow.
  • Something Completely Different: Sort of. Whereas the other Mischief Theatre productions were meta-farces which derived humour primarily from Stylistic Suck and behind-the-scenes chaos spilling out into the otherwise supposed-to-be-serious Show Within a Show, this one's a more straightforward absurdist comedy. There's also little suggestion that we're watching the hapless players of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society in this production.
  • Tap on the Head: Poor, poor Warren. And when he's not knocked out that way, he gets Easy Amnesia.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Cooper is not good at choosing passwords.
  • Walkie-Talkie Gag, Over: This radio conversation after Sam goes missing during the heist.
    Caprice: Cooper, where's Sam?
    Cooper: Haven't seen him.
    Caprice (into radio): No, Mitch, Sam's gone. Over.
    Mitch (over radio): Gone over where? Over.
    Caprice: No, Mitch, he chickened out and ran. Over.
    Mitch: Ran over what? Over.
    Caprice: No, Sam's gone. We have to stop. Over.
    Mitch: Stop over where? Over.
    Caprice: We don't have Sam to infiltrate the bank. It's Cooper's turn. Over.
    Mitch: Cooper's turnover? What's his annual income got to do with this?
    Caprice (to Cooper): Just put on Freeboys' suit.
    Mitch: And make sure you don't wake him up. Over.
    Cooper: No worries, he's having a nice sleep. Over.
    Mitch: He's having a nice sleepover?
    Cooper: I can't get his pants off. Over.
    Mitch: For God's sake, just grab the pants and pull. Over.
    Cooper: He's not wearing a pullover.
    This goes on for a while longer.
  • Who's on First?: A frequent source of humour, especially whenever Robin Freeboys is mentioned. There is also a long sequence at the beginning between the warden and a guard.
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