Comedy comes good despite cast issues

Front, left to right, Mark Best, Andrea Barker and Dan Dryer. Rear, left to right, Ian Churchill, Tony Brownings and John Garland
Front, left to right, Mark Best, Andrea Barker and Dan Dryer. Rear, left to right, Ian Churchill, Tony Brownings and John Garland

A COMPLICATED farce, where names keep changing and people are coming and going in all directions, requires complete focus to make it work.

For Wick Theatre Company, things did not get off to a good start when two members of the original cast had to drop out for health reasons.

Then, in the run-up to the staging of Funny Money at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, from last Wednesday to Saturday, getting together for rehearsals proved problematic.

Director John Garland explained: “It has proven extremely difficult to get everyone into the same room until the last couple of weeks – something which is essential if every ounce of the comedy potential is to be extracted.”

He actually had to take to the stage himself, to replace Graham Till as Detective Sergeant Slater, adding to his burden.

But the experienced members of the cast put in a lot of effort to produce a performance that was as good as could be expected under the circumstances.

Andrea Baker, filling Zoey Attree’s role as Jean Perkins, needed prompting on several occasions at Thursday’s performance but she had had a lot of lines to learn and may well have needed the drink her tee-total character turned to in the play!

Mark Best, in the lead role as Henry Perkins, stood out, and his sweat-ridden shirt was physical evidence of the effort he was putting into the performance.

Diane Robinson as Betty and Dan Dryer as her husband Vic played off each other very well.

Diane was a breath of fresh air, bringing a bouncy, light aspect among everyone else’s mania, and Dan had the timing absolutely right.

Stalwart performers Ian Churchill, as Detective Sergeant Davenport, and Tony Brownings, as taxi driver Bill (or was it Ben!), were both welcome additions to the cast, keeping the performance moving and remaining on the ball at all times.

And there was a lovely little cameo performance from H Reeves as ‘a passer-by’, Mr Big who wanted his money back at all costs.

Ray Cooney’s play is a classic farce, which means there is much silliness, and while the players did not quite make the best of it, there were many belly-laughs and a few of the audience were in hysterics for almost the entire evening.

There were a few muddles with the swapping of the briefcases, one loaded with £735,000 in cash, and it was not always done as discreetly as perhaps it should have been.

But Mr Garland certainly deserves praise for his efforts both on and off stage. He was lucky to have support from the hard-working production crew, who produced a high-quality set that gave the perfect background in which to work.