Having spent most of my day being drenched in a downpour, dashing in to dry off and then being soaked again as soon as I put my nose out of the door, I was looking forward to an evening at the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol to see Great Train Robbery by Scratchworks Theatre Company. An all female ensemble piece, this is refreshing, anarchic and joyful theatre. Relying on physical comedy, audience participation and the help of an impromptu (audience-derived) kazoo band, the piece takes us on a vivid reimagination of the Great Train Robbery of August 1963, and the untold story behind it. The four actors undertake three roles each and are untiring in their art, improvising where necessary and performing with a palpable joie de vivre which sent us out of the theatre with broad smiles on our faces.
At just over an hour, this is not a long piece, but the quick pace and action packed nature of the show is satisfying, riotous and fun. The cast cleverly reference most of the major crime heists and movies of recent history while a witty, richly intertextual script allows for clever puns and the actors’ physicality to shine through.
The Wardrobe Theatre is an intimate performance space which is ideally suited to Great Train Robbery. The talented cast capitalise on this, drawing the audience into the action and making them complicit in the plot in a way I have never quite experienced before!
Great Train Robbery is a cleverly comedic crime caper, freeing the characters from the kitchen sink to a life beyond the home (and the law!) and providing carefree evening of fun, intelligent and energetic comedy to its audience. A perfect antidote to even the soggiest of days!
Great Train Robbery runs at The Wardrobe Theatre until 16th September