Mischief Theatre are storming the West End and touring scene with their innovative and distinct comedy theatre. I spoke to Jenna Augen about starring in The Comedy About A Bank Robbery in London and why it’s so important to make people laugh.
“It’s a diamond heist set in Minneapolis Minnesota during 1958. There’s a lot of music in the show to help the story along and it keeps that backdrop of the 1950s very much alive,” Jenna said.
Set inside Minneapolis City Bank, there is an incredibly expensive Hungarian diamond that is housed there for a few weeks. “A con man Mitchell has the plan to steal it whilst it is in the bank and then hilarity ensues. He brings some people with him on the heist, some people are residents of Minneapolis, but they all have a connection to the bank,” Jenna explained.
“It is very farcical, it is a slapstick, it is a bit like Who Framed Rodger Rabbit meets Mission Impossible and that is the combination. There is a lot of different humour within it too.”
Jenna plays the role of Ruth who is a Bank Teller in the Minneapolis City Bank. “She’s the mother of Sam Monaghan who gets roped into the heist conspiracy. He is a petty criminal and she is just trying to keep him on the straight and narrow,” she said. “She is a very worried mother and uses tough love, she sees he is hanging out with some pretty nasty characters and just wants to make sure that he lives a good solid and decent life and abandons his life of petty crime.”
Having been in the show for around 14 months now, Jenna said it’s the longest she has ever been in one particular production. “It is such a complicated show, there are so many musical numbers and stunts, we really have to make sure everything was solid and in place,” she explained.
With the comedy, I asked Jenna how she manages to keep it fresh and bring the amount of energy she does to the show night after night. “It’s a joy to do which is really fun and audiences react to different things in different ways, so you have to keep the beat on what they’re reacting to,” she said. “Also it’s just playing with the company, there is a really lovely spirit of keeping things fresh and playful, every moment is different.”
Jenna expressed how surprised she is at how many people are constantly returning to the show. “We often do bucket collections for charity and most recently a woman came up to me and said her family had been back five times,” she said. “Months ago I met a group from France who had seen it six times and they come back regularly. It is just lovely to have that kind of following that they like it that much and it makes them laugh every time – it is really encouraging.
Mischief Theatre have had unbelievable success and they seem to really have the knack for creating these widely loved comedies. “Everybody always wants and needs to laugh and I think Mischief has its finger on the pulse of how to make that happen no matter what. It might not be your brand of theatre or particular aesthetic, but they have such a brilliant sense of humour and timing that you can’t help but give over to it,” Jenna said.
“I think especially with so many of the things that are going on today all over the world, laughter is just hugely necessary. It is almost like a palette cleanser; everyone needs it to sort of relieve themselves.
It is for everybody and it allows everyone to have a great time and laugh, it is like coming to a party and it feels that way on stage as well.”
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is on in London’s West End at the Criterion Theatre.