Actor Holly Sumpton recently made her professional debut at the Criterion Theatre in Mischief Theatre’s The Comedy About a Bank Robbery. Imogen Beech caught up with Holly to find out more about the show and what it’s like to be a West End leading lady.
Imogen Beech: For those of our readers who haven’t seen it yet, could you tell us a little bit about The Comedy About a Bank Robbery?
Holly Sumpton: It’s a fast-paced, energetic slapstick comedy which follows the story of an attempted diamond heist. The Prince of Hungary has agreed to store his diamond in the bank of Minneapolis run by Mr Freeboys, a man probably not to be trusted. Mitch, an escaped convict, sets his sights on stealing the diamond and plans to rob the bank with Caprice, the daughter of Freeboys. There are love affairs, plot twists, disguises and lots and lots of fun! You’ll have to come and see the play to find out if anyone actually gets their hands on the diamond…
IB: Your character is pretty strong-willed and, in many ways, seems to call the shots! What’s she like to play?
HS: She does call the shots and I love that! She’s a real meaty character to play and it’s so much fun. She rarely gets a second to breathe as there are so many spinning plates she has to keep up in the air and lots of different people she needs to keep sweet to give her what she wants – and she’s very clever in the way that she does this. She’s someone with a lot of punch and she’s very clever, but she finds herself in vulnerable situations too, which is always fun to explore and something that surprises me from time to time – finding those moments when she bears her heart a little than she’s used to. So yes, she’s a powerhouse and I love it!
IB: When I saw the play, I have to say I couldn’t stop laughing! Is that something that you get used to as an actor, or are there still moments where it’s difficult to keep a straight face?
HS: Yes, you definitely get used to it and learn how to keep a straight face – but it’s hard! We all like to keep each other on our toes, so sometimes it’s difficult! There was a lot of laughing in rehearsals! But when the audience gets in there and you settle into it you get used to not laughing.
IB: It’s a very energetic production! How do you make sure you have the stamina to get through it so many times a week?
HS: It’s something that did take me a while to get used to – it’s very physically and vocally demanding! I try and look after myself as best I can and get the rest that I need to. Eating well, drinking LOTS of water and keeping physically fit are all really important and once you find a routine you find yourself getting used to it! I always find I have to do something during the day, even if it’s just a walk, so I can go to work with energy already because I can’t gear up for the show out of nowhere!
IB: What made you want to get into theatre?
HS: It’s a standard answer, but I just got into it because I didn’t do a thing else when I was younger – so it felt like the natural thing to do! I grew up singing a lot with my dad who plays the guitar and then I got into acting and theatre a little later on, maybe when I was 15 or so. It just felt natural and exciting, so I thought I would audition for drama school and it went from there I suppose!
IB: And finally, who are your favourite funny women?
HS: Ah there are many! I have a lot of funny friends – they know who they are! But taking it back a while I’m a big fan of Lucille Ball. More recent funny women I love are Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Sara Pascoe and Felicity Ward are a couple of my favourite stand up comedians!
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery runs until April 2019 at the Criterion Theatre. For tickets and more information click here!