9th May 2019
The Assembly Rooms, Bolsover
Type of Production
Author: Joyce Handbury
Funny Money is a farce written by Ray Cooney. It centres around Henry Perkins who accidently picks up the wrong briefcase on his way home from work. Instead of papers and a cheese and chutney sandwich he finds £750,000 in cash. He decides that as the money is clearly the proceeds from some criminal activity, he is entitled to keep it. Knowing that the former owner must have his briefcase, he rushes home to book a one way flight to Barcelona for himself and his wife Jean with a car to take them to the airport. Chaos follows with invented identities, fictitious family members, bent coppers, Mr. Nasty and the threat of even nastier Mr. Big. Henry Perkins was outstandingly played by Derrick Hulett and as the mainstay of the play he is rarely off the stage. It was just amazing that he not only memorised all of his innumerable lines but also managed to convey to us, the audience, all the twists and turns of the plot with its deceptions, inventive stories and prevarications by his brilliant comic timing together with his superb acting skills which were so very much in evidence. As his wife Jean, Louise Sutton too gave a very fine performance going from being quite calm and realistic to an inebriated, totally confused and exasperated wife. It is not easy to play being drunk but Louise captured it perfectly and the moment when she was trying to put on her coat was so funny. Their friends, Vic and Betty Johnson who were coming round for a meal to celebrate Henry’s birthday, were both ideally suited to their respective roles. Istvan Koszegi (Vic), did a great job of being absolutely bewildered by the constant changes of names and stories but as feisty Betty, Holly Wood was very quick to grasp what is happening and she really enjoyed the twist in the story when she could perhaps be the one accompanying Henry to Barcelona. Detective Davenport appears on the scene to accuse Henry of his very suspicious behaviour when he had noticed him going in and out of a pub’s toilets - the real reason for this was that Henry was trying to decide what to do whilst counting and recounting the contents of the briefcase. Henry has no option but to go along with this and to appease him hands over £25,000. Gareth Elvidge was splendid as Davenport giving a very assured and quite serious characterisation of a ‘bent’ copper and by contrast the incorruptible policewoman Slater, was played by Sue Hilton with quiet authority. The taxi driver, Bill, was very patient but extremely exasperated and flummoxed by the whole affair. Ken Radmore, as Bill, was so amusing and droll and it was he who in the end, saved the day! A small but significant appearance as a passer-by was well portrayed by Chris Peck. Farce has to be funny to audiences but played ‘straight’ by the actors and this cast certainly achieved that on both counts. Of course to also make it believable, particularly as in this case when characters are going in and out of doors to various rooms, you need a good set. The set in ‘Funny Money’ was not just good it was superb and the excellent fittings, set painting and props were all top notch as was the attention to detail.
I thoroughly enjoyed this production and praise must go to the Director and Producer, Janet Koszegi, the wonderful cast and indeed to the whole team.