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Funny Money
a British Farce
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Ray Cooney

COMPANY : Polk Street Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stellar Cellar
ID# 1612

SHOWING : May 05, 2006 - May 21, 2006

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Mild-mannered accountant Henry Perkins accidentally ends up with a briefcase full of money on his birthday. Instead of enjoying a planned dinner with his wife and friends, he decides to chuck it all and set himself up for a new life. Unfortunately, his simple plan becomes more and more complicated as the evening progresses. By the time his taxi driver and a couple of police officers show up, Henry is in way too deep.


CAST & CREW LIST
Assistant Director Bronwyn Glantzberg
Director Lane Teilhaber
Set Design Michael Campion
Lights/Sound David Campion
Set Construction Clyde Kiess
Set Construction Brian Matthews
Stage Manager/Properties Mary Nimsgern
Set Decoration Pat Perera
Passerby Pete Borden
Henry Perkins Greg Fitzgerald
Bill Grant Garlinghouse
Bill Sean Patrick O'Rourke
Betty Johnson Amy Palys
Jean Perkins Amy Rundbaken Smith
Vic Johnson Ned Thurman
Cast Ned Thurman
Detective Sgt. Davenport Brian Twomey
Detective Sgt. Slater Tracy Wisniewski
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REVIEWS

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Go On. Take the Money & Run.
by line!
Sunday, May 21, 2006
4.0
So last night I made my first venture to “The Stellar Cellar”. I went to see, and support, some friends in the cast of “Funny Money”. I was also excited about the adventure of experiencing a new play and a new venue! (OK, so it doesn’t take much to excite me these days.)

I guess that I am probably the only person in the Atlanta community theatre community who didn’t know about the venue, as the photographic history of past productions in the “lobby” dated back to late 1800’s and contained images of virtually every other actor in town (including Murray Sarkin as a teenager in “Grease"!).

The “Stellar Cellar” gives new meaning to the term “Little Theatre”. The size, layout and seating gave me the sensation of attending a performance on an airplane! (Hey there’s an idea, Airborne Theatre!) The stage is truly tiny. If you have any potential issues with claustrophobia, either as an actor, or as an audience member, I strongly recommend medication before attending a performance.

That being said, laughter also works! And this show provided lots of that!

I will admit to being a sucker for a good farce, and Ray Cooney is one of the masters at the genre. Although this one seemed a bit long and probably could have used a little more editing, it was still fun. While many of the plot points were so obvious they could have been seen by Ray Charles, there were also a few unexpected surprises (I guess that’s redundant. A surprise is unexpected. That’s what makes it a surprise... Somewhere in a retirement home in Mississippi a former high school English teacher is weeping.)

(Disclaimer: I have already mentioned that I know some of the cast, so I am prone to be kind, but I will still call ‘em as I see’em)

As for the cast; it was a good and balanced ensemble of very talented folks. The cast gelled very well and seemed to be up to the challenge of the material. There are an awful lot of complicated lines for a lot of folks and it is critical to the plot that they be done correctly. All of the actors did an extremely commendable job on that count. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves onstage, which makes it very easy for the audience to have a good time too. There are really only two minor points about the show I would like to make. Point one: the speed of the dialogue needed to be faster. There were occasional ”beats” between lines of dialogue exchanged between characters that affected the pacing of the show. Part of the fun of farce is that it hits you so fast you don’t know what hit you and might not get the joke until you are on your way home. Point Two: some of the jokes were “oversold”, even for a farce.

Although everyone in the cast deserves individual Kudos, I would like to single out two folks in particular: Greg Fitzgerald and Ned Thurman. I have known Greg (and have seen him backstage in his underwear from time to time) for about a year and I must say he has really impressed me with his growth as an actor. Greg has always been a good actor, but, his performance as Henry Perkins is the best yet! Ned (who I have seen onstage before, but never in his underwear) really knocked me out! His timing and delivery as Vic Johnson was damn near perfect. I was amazed at his ability to milk laughs out of even the most minor things.

And once again I am most impressed with the direction of Lane Teilhaber (someone I have met, but have never seen in his underwear backstage, onstage or elsewhere). He has done a masterful job of utilizing space, talent and script to provide the audience with a very enjoyable production. This guy really knows how to make the most of the resources he has to work with.

In closing, I am sorry I didn’t get to see this one sooner (I really could have used the laughs last week). It was a fun night out at the theatre, and even though the venue was a little bit cramped (I am now facing a paternity suit from the lady in the seat in front of me), it was a very enjoyable show.
-Rial
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Desperation, Desperation, Desperation!!!
by Sweet Babboo
Sunday, May 21, 2006
3.0
That is the key to any successful farce - particularly British. The more frantic and over-the-top the actors are as the wild events spin further out of control, the better it works. It doesn't work when played at the pace as if it were a Neil Simon comedy. This production started off alright in Act One but completely lost steam in Act Two and came to a screaching hault. When the audience heard the lines at a normal speed, the more contrived and unfunny they sounded. The direction was a little fault, too. Actors were stationary far too long. The need to run around - a lot - in a farce. Granted, the stage is not much bigger than a postage stamp and gets crowded when there are more than four people are on it at one time. Also, this is not Cooney's best script either. Lots of rehashed material from other, more sharper, plays. The actors were capable, but there were no standouts. Plus the main character of Henry is basically a thoughtless jerk and found no reason to root for him. Not the worst production of a farce that I've seen, but miles away from hitting it's mark. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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