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Funny Money Reviews

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Laughs Keep on Rolling!

Funny Money at Wanganui Repertory Theatre. Reviewed by Maggie Munro.

Cleverly written by English farceur Ray Cooney and directed by Troy Taylor, this hilarious comedy takes place in the course of one evening in Henry and Jean Perkins’ living room. Henry, the hero of the piece, accidentally picks up the wrong briefcase while travelling home on the London Tube for his birthday – and it contains £750,000.

When Henry discovers his mistake, he is eager to keep the money and flee with Jean to Barcelona, leaving behind his old life. Jean just wants to have his birthday dinner with their friends and stay home.

What follows next is a series of unexpected and unwanted visitors, confused identities, a splash of police corruption and far too much alcohol for the poor confused Jean. The laughs and the fun never stop in this rollicking British farce put on by Wanganui Repertory.

Well done to all the cast for their entertaining acting and to the production team for a fun-filled, witty play. Definitely one not to miss.

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Polished Farce a Real Beauty

Written by Ray Cooney, directed by Troy Taylor. Presented by Wanganui Repertory Theatre. Reviewed by Paul Brooks.

Troy Taylor’s hitherto unfulfilled directing talents have emerged in full bloom in this hilarious, well-acted farce of clever dialogue and fast-paced action.

The entire play takes place over one evening in the living room of Henry and Jean Perkins’ London home, relying on a steady rotation of characters and a high degree of confusion. (Although there is a deviation from this rule in the first few minutes in which some of the characters are seen on a tube train, setting the premise for the play.)

Without giving the show away, the plot revolves around a briefcase (in various pronunciations) which contains £735,000 in
cash. It has come into the possession of Henry Perkins and he doesn’t want to let it go. In fact, he’s making some out-of-character plans to keep it.

Henry is played brilliantly by Colin Hedivan, head of drama at Wanganui High School, who obviously practises what he preaches. His character is almost manic, sprinting from one situation to the next, entertaining the audience with pantomime gestures one moment, facial expressions, the next. His body language, timing and impeccable script memorisation is a wonder to behold. Not only that, but this native Canadian adopts an English accent and doesn’t miss a beat, even when the dialogue is at its most frenetic.

Ray Cooney has written a very funny play, but it takes a good cast to pull it off. Repertory has done it with a mix of veterans and novices, some of whom “do London” and some who don’t, but the audience didn’t seem to mind. They were too busy laughing.

Colin, Gillian A very, Phil Hudson, Karen Hughes, Reuben Janes, Carey Knapp, Jay Bardell and Mitchell Taylor brought their roles to life with realism and humour. Their cues were sharp and the pace never slowed as every entrance, exit and line was snappy and well executed. Every line could be heard (although we might have missed one or two while we were laughing) and every character was believable – in an unbelievable situation.

The set was a work of art, lighting and sound effects worked a treat and Mark Rayner sounded right at home announcing each station in the opening sequence. Tea and biscuits at half-time were most welcome.

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Review

Funny Money By Wanganui Repertory Theatre. Directed by Troy Taylor. Reviewed by Doug Davidson.

Funny Money, written by English playwright Ray Cooner, is a typical farce, with plenty of twists, turns and characters on the edge of total disaster. It covers a wide range of topics such as manslaughter, robbery, drugs, escape attempts, extortion, sex and madness.

The plot is simple but full of dramatic potential. Henry Perkins returns home to his London apartment having accidentally picked up the wrong briefcase – one which happens to contain £735,000 – and is determined to fly that night, with his wife Jean, to Barcelona, to start a new life. Jean, however, wants to stay home as she has prepared a birthday dinner for Henry and they have friends coming over.

From that premise, there follows a series of visitors, some expected, some not and most unwanted, including two policemen, one corrupt.

Jean is unable to cope and for the first time in her life takes to alcohol. The play is performed well, the pace of the play is fast and there are no slip ups, even when the action becomes somewhat frenetic. Colin Hedivan is a stand-out as Henry, with his expressions, clarity of voice and changes of tone. The fact that he is on stage for almost all of the time, and is able to keep up the high energy acting, is an achievement in itself.

The stage set, representing the decor in a typical London apartment was up to Repertory’s normal high standards. If you like the fast pace and quick laughs of a good English farce, go to Funny Money, before its season ends.

Funny Money was made into a movie in 2006 starring Chevy Chase.