Pleading Stupidity review | Whose story is this, anyway?

★★★★☆ The true story of the stupidest bank robbery in the 21st century proves a ripe vein for comedy in the latest play from Maybe You Like It.

pleading stupidity edinburgh fringe 2

★★★★☆

The true story of the stupidest bank robbery in the 21st century proves a ripe vein for comedy in the latest play from Maybe You Like It. Here’s our Pleading Stupidity review.


In 2005, two Australians staying in Colorado robbed their own bank. The bank tellers recognised them, not just because they were the only Australians in town, but because they’d left their work name tags pinned to their coats. Eight minutes later, their crime was solved. In court, the two men would plead stupidity in an attempt to reduce their sentence.

It’s the kind of synopsis which sells a play all on its own, so it’s interesting to find that the team behind 2019-Fringe-hit Redacted Arachnid don’t seem content to rest on the story’s inherent comedy to sell their new play. Instead, Pleading Stupidity finds nuance in a delightfully unsubtle tale by asking – just whose story is this to tell?
With a talented cast of four multi-role-ing their way through bank staff, journalists and police officers from every corner of the English-speaking globe, Stupidity unfolds with a cheering level of enthusiasm. Charmingly homemade blocks (with, apparently, slightly sticky drawers) are deployed inventively, repeatedly forming a judge’s bench in one of the show’s best sight gags.

The script, too, with frequent jumps between the day of the robbery and its aftermath, shows a remarkable eye for narrative structure. Its time-hopping presentation only adds to the show’s breakneck feel, even when the occasional transition feels foiled by a slightly overcrowded stage.

At the same time, the show’s ambitious structure occasionally proves its downfall. While some lines, apparently, are delivered verbatim, the line between them is rarely completely clear. While that confusion – deciding which segments are real and which are purely subjective – feels like one which could be drawn far clearer with a reliance on either absolute authenticity or narrative creation. Together, it just ends up feeling a little muddled.

Still, Pleading Stupidity winds up being a playful and breezy play, and a more than worthy follow-up to 2019’s Redacted Arachnid.


You can view our comprehensive guide to the entire Fringe here.


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