HomeWorldReview: DE KOMEDIE OVER EEN BANK OVERVAL at De Goudse Schouwburg!

Review: DE KOMEDIE OVER EEN BANK OVERVAL at De Goudse Schouwburg!


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The Comedy about a Bank Robbery. A play created by Mischief Theatre (script: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields) , who are also responsible for the Olivier Award-winnig show The Play That Goes Wrong.  The Dutch adaptation is in hands of Pretpakhuis, in a direction (and translation) by Jon van Eerd.

Let me start by saying this may or may not be your genre, this kind of physical comedy is extremely subject to personal taste and I’m sure more than half of the audience whole-heartedly will disagree with the below.

That being said.  It’s ironic that The Comedy about a Bank Robbery is made by the same creative team who were responsible for The Play That Goes Wrong. A play which I loved tremendously in all its clichéd glory. Where the Play that Goes Wrong is a perfect mix of a fully directed and choreographed ‘mess’,  with beautiful built layers of dismay happening to the characters, it’s a comedic masterpiece. They  portray an amateur group of actors who are trying to perform a play where slowly everything goes wrong (hence the title).

It’s endlessly funny without ever being cheesy, and the actors go full out.

Imagine my surprise that from the skillfull hands of Mischief Theatre, we have The Comedy about a Bank Robbery. It’s a mediocre ripoff of their own succes play, where they’re trying to use the same tricks (for instance, the bed scene – where a character hides under, up, over, above the bed in all kinds of acrobatics stunts).

Basic plot, as described on the website:

“One enormous diamond

Eight incompetent crooks

And a snoozing security guard

What could possibly go right?”

The Dutch cast consists of Buddy Vedder, Suzanne Pleiter, Joey Schalker, Rogier Komproe, Zjon Smaal, Martin van der Starre, Arie Cupé, Cathalijne de Sonnaville and Lars Vaessen.One thing that speaks for the cast, it looks like they have a blast on stage, which is always wonderful to look at. They work hard and generally it’s not the cast who are dissapointing. It’s the cheesy script.

Most of the storyline is cringey at best. The power of repetition is something that’s been used over and over (and over) again.

Make a joke once, sure. Make joke twice, sure. But five times over? It doesn’t speak of great trust in the capability and/or intelligence of the audience. The ‘joke’, if we can call it that, about the head of police (and the director of the head of the police, and the head of the director of the head of police and so on and so forth) is mediocre at best. The same joke and structure happens again in act II, now packed in a ‘mom or aunt’ character. 

Understandably, the power of repetition is not uncommon in comedy, but the feeling of “Oh come on” lingered throughout. In general it might be quite the challenge to fully embrace the British humor and translate it (literally and figurately) to the Dutch market.

For instance, Mr. Robin Freeboys, the original English character is translated as Dries Zwartjes. What enfolds in the story is that at some point there are three characters disguised as Mr. Freeboys, with rhymes with… hold your hat… Three boys. Ha-ha-hilarious. Dries Zwartjes, the Dutch character name made me flinch a little. Let me be fully clear, this is not coming from a ‘woke’ statement, it’s just a joke in poor taste. You should be able make comedy about any subject, but this joke is just cringey.

Review: DE KOMEDIE OVER EEN BANK OVERVAL at De Goudse Schouwburg!

I do want to close on a lighter note. I do fully see, feel and appreciate the effort. And there were some clever finds: the actual scenes on the ropes during the bank robbery where quite funny – and the top view looking over the office – physical comedy as it should be.

Review: DE KOMEDIE OVER EEN BANK OVERVAL at De Goudse Schouwburg!But then it ends *SPOILER* with a weird Reservoir Dogs ending where several characters are shot, you lost me again.

Let’s just say, this show isn’t for me, and that’s ok. Comedy is personal and the audience seemed to enjoy. But my theatre heart bleeds just a little. It could have been amazing with a better thought-out script.

Photo courtesy: AV Fotoreportage / Axel Drenth 


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