Sue Parslow reviews a laugh out loud comedy of quality.
Get comfortable in your seat and get focussed – you’re in for a high-speed ride of jokes, laughter and action at London’s Criterion Theatre. The first scene runs at a gag a second, acting as a wake-up call to the audience demanding that they immediately tune into the tone of this sparkling comedy about the attempted heist of a priceless diamond. It’s a full-on modern farce with plenty of twists and turns, disguises and mistaken identity. There’s slapstick a-plenty too – one scene, for me, appears to have been choreographed with a touch of inspiration from TV’s Bottom and the knockabout humour of Ade Edmondson and the late Rik Mayall. There are plenty of fresh tricks and stage ‘magic’, including a scene which ‘defies the laws of gravity’ in a really clever and funny way. I’ll say no more as I don’t want to spoil the surprise – suffice to say that the actors make full use of the stage and its surrounds! At times you’ll be holding your breath at their antics and marvelling at the skilful acrobatics. One particular stunt is quite incredible because I couldn’t imagine it happening other than a oneoff; a lucky fluke. The singing is pretty good, too – the musical aspect of the performance was an unexpected and pleasurable bonus. It’s a big cast with some actors playing more than one character, to comic effect. The fact that the dialogue and actions are so tight and polished must owe a lot to the fact that the writing team – Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – play key characters. I thought that Charlie Russell, who plays Caprice Freeboys, the key crook’s girlfriend, is particularly good. Her comic expressions were hilarious. And I never thought I’d be applauding a woman’s ability to drink water on a West End stage, but it’s that sort of comedy! So with such talented writers and cast, what could possibly go wrong? Answer: nothing – this is an absolute hit. To steal the words from the posters – it would be criminal to miss it! ■