Freshly scripted and as yet unpublished, “Bank Job” debuted Saturday night, June 12 at Kansas City, Missouri’s The Living Room Theatre as the venue celebrated along with their favorite playwright, John Kolvenbach.
The Living Room featured Kolvenbach’s play “On an Average Day” when they opened their doors. Last season, to celebrate their affinity to Kolvenbach, they remounted the piece and paired it with another of his plays, “Love Song” and invited the playwright to attend and provide talk back opportunities for the KC crowd.
This year, they debuted his newest creation, a major break from his more dark and dramatic tones. “Bank Job” is pure comedy, farce, and hilarity from start to finish, “Bank Job” explodes on the set with two clown-masked bank robbers storm into the executive wash room and watch as all possibilities of escape lead to brick walls–literally a brick walled window.
“Two brothers find themselves in the executive washroom of the bank they just robbed with no way out. This idiosyncratic comedy will have you rolling, as this unlikely duo wield Kolvenbach's pointed narrative like an old-school knife fight Financial gain, family dynamics, and fated encounters all play into this story that embraces the petty sibling condition under the least petty of circumstances,” The Living Room’s website states.
“Bank Job” stars Rusty Sneary, Matt Weiss, Gary Neal Johnson, Harvey Williams, and Shawnna Journagan. Weiss returned to Kansas City specifically for this production. He was in the opening show for The Living Room, and he returned to remount “On an Average Day” last season. Weiss said he leaves the day after “Bank Job” closes.
Weiss lives in New York where he awaits his big break. He said he has his hopes pinned on gaining traction from a motion picture, Goodlands, that he finished recently that awaits distribution.
Like his other plays, Kolvenbach writes interesting, dense, strong characters. “Bank Job” brings another set of intricate characters together, but this time with the most comedic results. When watching the story evolve, the plot gives the idea of Keystone Cops but with dialogue. The situation is zany like a Lucy and Ethel dilemma or a Laurel and Hardy mess.
Expect to be dazzled with the performances of this ensemble cast. Weiss and Sneary spectacularly master the rapid fire dialogue of two very dis-similar brothers pulling off a horrendously flawed bank robbery. Their banter, insults, and actions provide laughs from the beginning. Add in Shawnna Journagan as a vapid bystander in a toilet stall and just watch her expressions as she adds depth and chaos to the story. Then, Harvey Williams bursts upon the scene as the security guard with larcenous intentions. Williams just fits well into the madcap mischief, and, all of a sudden there are three matching guns involved–one with real bullets and two with blanks. As escape plot after plot fails, another plot bring a hostage into the failed attempt, in the form of Gary Neal Johnson. The madcap comedy just keeps spinning deeper and deeper out of control to the delight of the audience. Watching this cast work together as they do is pure artistry. A finer cast could not be assembled to deliver more fun.
Director duo for this crafty caper are Scott Cordes and Katie Gilchrist. Together, they found all the humor of the piece and stood back as their cast found new characters to develop. The beauty of this is that “Bank Job” allowed each actor to create a new character no one else has performed. Weiss and Sneary give fast-paced, energetic performances that allow the others to feed off them. Dynamic staging, a unique setting, great sound move this piece forward.
“Bank Job,” a slapstick, comedy farce with a few darker tinges continues at The Living Room, Kansas City, Missouri through July 3. The small venue seats about 60 persons. The language is not overly strong and is appropriate for mature teens and up. For tickets, phone, address and more information check The Living Room website.