Funny Money by Ray Cooney
‘This production was pacy, slick and hilariously funny. In fact, this is just what the doctor ordered for those looking for an anti-dote to the problems of the day.’
Stewart Adkins (Arts Critic - Noda)
29 May 2011
Directed by Margaret Goldstone
Performed - 25 to 28 May 2011
Ray Cooney is today recognised theatrically and publicly as ‘THE MASTER OF FARCE’.
A most prolific writer of stage farces/comedies of high standards which have not only graced the stages of English speaking countries for more than 40 years, but have been staged worldwide and translated into more than 40 foreign languages including Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
Ray Cooney earned an international reputation as the finest living writer of this form of theatre.
Charles Spencer, the doyen of theatre critics wrote of FUNNY MONEY!: ‘Ray Cooney is a national treasure’.
Good friends Betty and Vic arrive for Henry's birthday dinner and Jean is frantic because Henry is late.
When he eventually arrives he wants to emigrate immediately, and with good reason: the briefcase he accidentally picked up on the Underground is stuffed with £735,000!
When two police inspectors call, Henry, Vic, Betty and a bemused (and tipsy) Jean are forced into a frantic game of cat and mouse.
Hilarious innuendo and cruelly funny turns of fate ensue as the two couples assume various identities in their battle to keep the money. This is a British play, written in 1923 by Arnold Ridley.
Reviewer – Stewart Adkins, Regional Representative NODA
This production was pacy, slick and hilariously funny. In fact, this is just what the doctor ordered for those looking for an anti-dote to the problems of the day. The set was entirely convincing, creating as it did a very large living room that was not totally dominated by the four-seater leather Chesterfield down stage right. With exits left and right as well as stairs to the landing and a door to the dining room there were plenty of opportunities for the cast to make an error but I didn’t spot one. Despite this being the first night the timing of entrances and exits, telephone rings and cue pick ups were generally spot on, suggesting very careful direction and intense rehearsals. Best of all were the gunshots and the impact on the flowers, radio and cuckoo clock. It wasn’t just one gunshot and its impact that was perfectly timed but all three. This was a wonderfully tight cast that worked well together and perhaps hadn’t realized until they had an audience just how funny some of the situations were. There were few inherently funny lines, this was not strictly a comedy, but a farce with so many moments when the lines taken in the context of the action were “laugh out loud” funny and occasionally eye-wateringly so.
Josie Brut as Jean began as a wonderfully wet wife whose bravado and ability to stand up for herself grew with every nip of brandy that she consumed. It is not easy playing someone who gets more and more drunk through the night and yet Josie managed this without going OTT. Her grey and formerly wimpish husband Henry, played by Graham Poulteney managed to juggle names of fictitious brothers, sisters-in-law and briefcases, sometimes at breakneck speed, with aplomb, and never gave a hint that he was losing control. Perhaps some hints of this should have been forthcoming prior to his “confession” to Slater but this may be nit-picking. Mel Hastings, as Vic, gave a very good account of someone struggling to keep up with the plot that was unfolding around him and his reactions to the accusations of what was going on under the blanket were priceless. Angie Beckett’s Betty was finely judged. With less to do and say than the other main principals she nevertheless successfully portrayed someone who didn’t think much beyond superficial thoughts, making her decision to go to Barcelona with Henry a perfectly obvious thing to do. Her hair, make up and dress also conveyed that superficiality well.
The remaining characters had less to do but were by no means overshadowed. Duncan Hopgood as the bent policeman Davenport was a polar opposite to the straight man Slater, played by Martin Reynolds while Martin Goldstone’s exasperated taxi-driver, Bill, was also excellent. The passer-by, or Mr Big as we now know him, made a brief or should that be brurf, but very effective appearance.
Congratulations to all.
Reviewer – Stewart Adkins
NODA East, District 8