PMD Reviews

Hear what the Purple Moon Drama Reviews team have to say about the latest theatre and performance around London.

Want to invite our reviewers to a show? Email PMD Reviews Coordinator, Jade, at jadem@purplemoondrama.co.uk.

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A Women Walks Into a Bank at Theatre 503 (Nov 2023)

December 07, 20233 min read

The show is almost cartoonish in style. Like a fairytale, the script drips with repetition and is embellished with wicked and dark contradictions. - Mary Condon O'Connor

A Woman Walks into A Bank never pretends to be anything it is not. Yes, reader it is absolutely about a woman walking into a bank and yes, Sally, the cat, really does jump from the fifth-floor balcony of a block of flats in Moscow. However, Roxy Cook (who is both writer and director) never allows the audience to get too comfortable, at least not for long.

It turns out that not everything is set in good Russian stone, even if Cook likes to tell us that we are definitely in Moscow in August 2018 when the story begins. The older lady (Giulia Innocenti) finds herself in a bank and has a chance encounter with the bank manager – later to become branch manager – played by Sam Newton. While the story is about securing an easy, albeit dubious, bank loan agreement, this once-off meeting soon transforms into a much bigger monster. This soon catches the eye of the thuggish debt collector (Keith Dunphy) who now has a new victim to target. It would be remiss of me not to mention the real star of the show, Sally, the pampered, sassy 18-year-old (soon to become 19-year-old) cat, who is played by the entire cast.

Soon, the characters become woven into the chaos around Russian New Year’s Eve, like the complex but grotesque carpet pattern, designed by David Allen, which slowly breaks apart to show the bare bones of what this trip to the bank is all about.

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In my opinion, this is a hidden tale about the need for connection to others, your country and even yourself. The show is almost cartoonish in style. Like a fairytale, the script drips with repetition and is embellished with wicked and dark contradictions, while referring to Russia both past, present and future. From the moment you walk into the theatre, you notice the contrast between the old, ugly carpet adorning the set with the trippy and club-like music of Blestyashchiye.

All the performances are brilliant and bright from the sad insecurity of the 25-year-old bank clerk, the debt collector, who behind his love for Russian churches, wants something more, and the older lady, who waits for her daughter to ring each night but no longer wants to wait for anything else.

At various stages, this play seems absurd, hilarious and abstract. The audience is forced to listen intently with much of the first act being about the otherwise simple conversation in the bank.

I do question if Cook is too close to the story and with the benefit of space, if another director might have brought an additional perspective to the show and the opportunity to explore the themes of nationalism, family and intergenerational connection.

A Women Walks into a Bank is at one level about a woman doing just that, but we sense that this is about a deeper story. Be prepared to experience joy, laughter and fun in this dark comedy.

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4 Moons Out Of 5 🌕🌕🌕🌕

EXTENDED DUE TO PHENOMENAL DEMAND! Now until 15 December. Click here to book.

Theatre 503London TheatreNew Writing
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Mary Condon O'Connor

Mary is an Irish theatre faciliatior working alongside communities. She loves theatre and music, especially new writing.

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