BWW Review: FUNNY MONEY at New Theatre Restaurant
Inspired silliness. Now playing at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park through February 11, 2018 is the 1994 British farce "Funny Money." It is an Olivier Award nominated, misbegotten tale of misdirection, accident, flight, and comic mistaken identities.
The lead character is Henry Perkins (TV's Jim O'Heir), a boring, middle-aged accountant, who is late arriving home from work on public transport. Today happens to be Henry's birthday. He has been looking forward to a celebration dinner with wife Jean (Debra Bluford) and their friends The Johnsons, Vic (Allan Baker) and Betty (Cathy Barnett). It is a bright spot in his otherwise hopeless, everyday life.
Henry exits his ride home and opens his briefcase to retrieve his scarf and gloves against the cold. He quickly realizes something is strange. Henry has picked up the wrong briefcase. This case doesn't hold his gloves, but instead is stuffed with over $7 million in cash. Henry repairs to a convenient bar. He excitedly counts his windfall in the restroom (three times) and unfortunately attracts the attention of a plain clothes police sergeant named Cecil Davenport (Victor Raider-Wexler) who is trolling the vice beat.
Henry quickly realizes that the money is probably dirty and determines to keep it, pack up the wife, flee the country, and leave his dull old life behind. He announces the celebration dinner is off and tells Jean to pack a toothbrush and get ready to hop a cab to the airport en route to Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Davenport shows up at the Perkins front door. He thinks he has just cornered a serial male prostitute from the neighborhood bar. About this time, taxi driver Bill (Craig Benton) shows up to take Henry to the airport. Henry makes up a story for Davenport's benefit and invents a nonexistent nudist sister-in-law and her husband from Alberta Canada. Confused yet?
The vice cop smells a rat which is OK, because he turns out to be a rat with his hand out. He is shuffled to the kitchen just as the doorbell rings. Henry has correctly surmised that the $7 million is meant for someone with less than honorable intentions. Once the mistake is discovered, he is likely in big league trouble by Monday. His work address is in the other briefcase.
But Henry messes up the timeline. The mistake has already been discovered. The man originally carrying the $7 million is dead from a couple of point blank head wounds, his body is weighted down, and sent to reside with the fishies in the Hudson River. Evidently the murderer has not done a great job because the corpse is already discovered by the police, and they have incorrectly assumed that the body they found belongs to Henry. Believe me... this is much funnier than it sounds.
A second police Sergeant Slater (Greg Butell) arrives at the Perkins house to make the death notification, and conduct Mrs. Perkins to the morgue for the definitive identification. Now, I'm confused.
Detective Slater is eventually followed to the Perkins household by the final character in this mish mash, a Mr. Big (Vincent Monochino) who supplies the big climax and the penultimate fireworks.
If you loved the Tim Conway sketches on the old "Carol Burnett show," episodes of "Frasier" where someone is always missing the other characters by disappearing behind a door, or the classic comedy of manners by Neil Schaffner "Natalie Needs A Nightie," then you will love this show. It is a joke that never gets old and keeps on giving.
All the members of this cast seem to enjoy each other. One of the hardest things to do well in comedy is to wait until the laugh ripples through the audience. This cast has mastered every kind of take you can imagine including a spit take and does them well. The direction by Joe R Fox III keeps everything in its proper lane. The set by James Misenheimer complete with three doors, one staircase, and three replaceable squibs allows everyone to circle until we arrive at the final curtain.
"Funny Money" continues at the New Theatre Restaurant through February 11, 2018. Tickets are available at the theatre box office, online at www.newtheatre.com or by telephone at 913-649-SHOW.
Photo provided by New Theatre Restaurant.