Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Funny Money"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Funny Money"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Granite Theatre's current show is Ray Cooney's farce, "Funny Money". Henry Perkins, a mild mannered CPA, accidentally picks up the wrong briefcase, one full of money. Henry assumes it is illegal cash and decides to keep it. He books two one-way fares to Barcelona. His confused wife doesn't want to leave because their best friends, Vic and Betty are coming over to celebrate Henry's birthday. The doorbell rings and a detective arrives to arrest Henry for soliciting at a local pub. It rings again and another detective arrives to announce that Henry is dead because they found a dead body in the Thames with Henry's briefcase as the only ID of the dead man. Add Vic and Betty plus a cab driver and a mysterious visitor to the storyline and you have the ingredients for this crazy, madcap show. Director Morgan Ban-Draoi chooses the best people for each of the roles and keeps this high energy show flowing from start to finish with much sustained laughter from a very appreciative crowd.

Morgan blocks this show very well with the manic movement of the performers being executed perfectly especially the hiding under the blanket segments of the show where it looks like a lot of hanky panky is going on. She also runs the lights and the sound for the show. The lovely, two story set is by David Jepson and is painted a bright yellow to keep the cheeriness of a British farce. Her hard working stage manager, Michael Chiaradio keeps the actors on their toes with their constant entrances and exits and also gets to appear on stage as the mysterious stranger. His menacing character gets many laughs at his crazy antics. Heading this cast is Ray Daponte as Henry Perkins. His British accent is flawless as is his comic timing, double takes and facial expressions. His confused and constantly drinking wife, Jean is expertly played by Sharon Miceli,also with a British accent. She starts the tall tales rolling by creating a fake sister and brother-in-law. Sharon's growing drunken behavior is hilarious and seeing her try to get into the wrong sleeve of a coat is a standout moment as is her horror at losing her cat named Pussy.

Their friends, Vic and Betty are played by John Brennan and Melissa Rostkoski. John is perfect as the befuddled hubby continually trying to follow Henry's machinations on changing everyone's name constantly and creating new in-laws at the drop of a hat. The briefcase switching scene has to be seen to be believed and is hilarious. Melissa as Betty enjoys the exciting antics of the evening, proclaiming it is better than watching a movie on TV. Betty also wants to do wife swapping so she can go to Spain with Henry. Steven Bartholomew plays the money grubbing detective, Davenport who blackmails Henry into paying him large sums of money to keep his mouth shut. The other detective, Slater is played wonderfully by Marshall Williams who is very patient with the looniness around him and does a slow burn finally exploding at them, obtaining a full confession to the truth at last. The comic cab driver, Bill is played by Chris Mahn. He is a hoot as the exasperated taxi driver who knows more about the briefcase situation than he lets on. Chris gives it the cheekiness the role needs. So for a fun filled topnotch rendition of the British farce, be sure to catch Morgan and her gang in "Funny Money" at the Granite Theatre. You won't be disappointed.

"Funny Money" (21 October - 20 November)
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1 (401) 596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide