White Light in the Frame for The Comedy About A Bank Robbery
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A Mischief Theatre Company production, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is produced by Kenny Wax and Stage Presence in association with Birmingham Rep and features a lighting design by David Howe. David comments: “Bank Robbery is a play where the situation really brings the comedy to life. You have an escaped convict set on capturing a priceless diamond from the bank and with him his eccentric sidekick, trickster girlfriend and the maintenance man. The brief for me was to support the writing, which is extremely fast paced, as we swiftly move from one location to another, often by the way of musical montages. I worked closely with the other brilliant designers David Farley (Set Designer), Roberto Surface (Costume) and Jon Fiber (Sound) to create the world our writers envisaged. The writers were the performers in the original West End company and therefore the show evolved massively in rehearsals and it was very much an organic, collaborative process”.

Whereas the script remains the same as that performed in the West End, there were some changes to the production that needed to be implemented for the tour due to both space and touring requirements David comments: “Structurally, the set is quite complex. It may look simple but contains much trickery to help achieve the visual and, often, gravity defying effects. David Farley produced a range of visualisations for each venue which proved invaluable to both producers and myself when planning the show. When I originally laid-out the West End design on paper (yes I use paper!), the show hadn’t even started rehearsals, so I had to design-in as much flexibility into the rig as possible; knowing the script would evolve. Coming back to the production for the tour I’ve been able to pair back and make stronger statements which give it vibrancy and set the tone from the start.

He continues: “The West End’s rig is a mixture of Viper Performance spots, Revolutions, MAC Auras and TW1s. For the tour, we have a simpler package of MAC Encore (Cold) and MAC Auras as the basic spot/wash combination, a couple of LED Lustres for a low angle cross light and Colour Force Battens to provide a colour highlight on the set. I’ve been really impressed with the MAC Encore’s flexibility – not only with the quality of LED light, but also the really great colour mixing which has meant I’ve been able to replicate some of the warmer colour tones I use in the West End version. It used to send a chill through me when people requested ‘bright for comedy’ lighting, but not on this show. In fact, darkness and shade in many ways are key to creating the ambience and location in our world of ‘The Robbery’. If anything the darkness plays against the insane comedy action of the play”.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery opened in Birmingham in September and is currently at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and will tour until mid-2019. As with most touring productions, the tight schedule meant that David had to work closely with his team to ensure his intricate design could be recreated across the country. He comments: “The show closes on a Saturday night before loading in on Monday and opening Tuesday. I remain indebted to my team who manage to make it all work – the initial team from Birmingham Rep led by Andy Fidgeon, Programmer Alex Boucher along with my Touring Production Electrician Sonic Harrison who re-focuses/updates the show each week”.