Curtain Call: Bank on ‘Funny Money’ for laughs

Town Players, Newtown: Pick up the wrong suitcase and you never know what you’ll find when you open it. For Henry Perkins, a dull accountant with little chance of advancement, it’s a life changer. He finds £750,000 (British pounds), rushes home and tells his wife Jean to pack her backs because they’re heading to Barcelona. Of the more than 15 farces that have come to life from the pen of playwright Ray Cooney, this one deposits plenty of action, but withdraws more than a fair share of repetitive nonsense.

As in any farce, there’s a great deal of people coming and going through door after door. Director Gene Golaszewski does an exceptional job of keeping the momentum going, even when the play itself stalls in the second act. The pace is quick and the laughs come quicker. The first act is the charm, but Cooney plays it too long and the second act is almost redundant. Even though the cast does a good job of cranking out the laughs, the second act gets downright tiresome.

Henry rushes about eager to get out of the house before “Mr. Nasty” discovers Henry’s suitcase with his address in it, but wife Jean doesn’t want to leave. She’s got a chicken in the oven and the Johnsons are coming to Henry’s birthday dinner.

The actors who use British accents and terms are to be given kudos just for remembering the plethora of bogus names each character is assigned as Henry tries to fabricate one excuse after another in order to hide the fact that he has the found money. Christopher Bird as Henry does a fine job of keeping it all together with several suitcases changing hands and names continually changing. Considering how convoluted the play is, this is no easy task.

Kimberly Marcus as Jean delivers a solid performance as she manages to fall over couches, drink like a fish, and overall is a most attractive drunk. Tom Torpey as Bill the taxi driver adds a spark to the cast with his delivery of lines, while Brian DeToma as the bad cop on the take is a joy to watch. His every expression and body language emphasize his stage know-how. If Torpey is a spark, then Thursday Savage as Betty Johnson delivers a four-alarm fire with her mischievous facial expressions and sexy performance. She’s a joy to watch. Peter Haynes as the no-nonsense friend gets his fair share of laughs with his serious demeanor, even when he’s under the blanket with Henry trying to hide the money-filled suitcase, but suggesting something else entirely.

Eric Greenfield plays Slater, the good cop who has to be one of the most patient actors assigned to a dining room and Christopher Cooney as “A Passer-by” and most likely Mr. Big, adds to the final scene. The most attractive set featuring art, stylish furniture and three busy doorways as well as a staircase is beautifully designed for more than just function by the director and Nick Kaye.

The production plays through June 8. Box office: 203-270-9144.

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association, and founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle. She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com.