Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Funny Money
The Adobe Theater
Review by Dean Yannias

Also see Stephanie's review of Nunsense 2: The Second Coming


L to R: Jesse Miller, Tim Riley, and Daniel Anaya
Photo by Vincent Tomardy
Before seeing this production, I had never heard of the play Funny Money or its author, Ray Cooney. It turns out that Mr. Cooney, now age 85, is regarded highly enough in the UK to have been named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE—not quite a knighthood), and his play Run for Your Wife had the longest run ever on the West End for a comedy. Funny Money was turned into an American movie in 2006 with Chevy Chase, apparently not one of the high points of his career.

I'm sure that it works better on the stage than on film. It's a cleverly constructed farce—thankfully, with only three doors. The premise is that Henry Perkins, a going-nowhere accountant in London, accidentally picks up someone else's black briefcase when he exits the tube, leaving his own briefcase on the train. The one he brings home contains £735,000, which is way more than he would make in a lifetime. Since he decides obviously drug money, he tries to convince his wife Jean that they have to grab the first flight out to anywhere, in this case Barcelona, before "Mr. Nasty" and "Mr. Big" track him down.

Before the cab arrives to take them to Heathrow, a cop shows up. Then their friends Betty and Vic show up for dinner, as it's Henry's birthday. Then another cop shows up. One prevarication leads to another, people are constantly going in and out through those three doors, and all the while, the meter is running in the taxi. Will the cops catch on that Henry has a briefcase full of pound notes? What happened to the guy on the subway who wound up with Henry's briefcase? Will there be another black briefcase that will be switched with the one full of cash? Of course there will. Will Henry and Jean ever get to Barcelona? I'm pretty sure that no one in the audience could predict the conclusion, which for a comedy makes a satisfying punchline.

The whole thing plays out in real time, getting progressively more manic but always easy enough to follow. My problems with the play are very few: In the first couple of minutes, while waiting for Henry to come home, Jean walks on and off stage several times, opening and closing doors for little reason; this gives us time to listen to some relevant news on the radio, but Jean's coming and going distracts us from what's being reported. Near the very end, Henry comes clean and explains all the mistaken identities to the second policeman (and for the benefit of the audience), but this isn't really necessary either. I think the audience had it all figured out. Also, the three-second "fight scene" is pretty lamely staged. Otherwise, it works very well.

I don't know who discovered this play for Adobe—maybe it was director Andrea Haskett. In any case, it's a good fit for summer, when we tend toward lighter fare, and for the intimate Adobe. Ms. Haskett keeps the pacing just right, not too frenetic and never sluggish. And she has assembled a good cast, with some faces new to me.

The always-good Tim Riley is an excellent choice for Henry; he does consternation better than most actors. Jennifer Benoit as Jean is good at getting more and more drunk on stage; the only problem is that her English accent only lasts about two minutes. Neil Faulconbridge, hailing from the UK, is perfect in the role of the first cop, who is more than a little crooked. Jesse Miller, as the second cop, is rather young for the role but does a good job with it.

Ericka Zepeda acts well as Betty, but needs to project a bit more. Probably she just needs more experience on the stage. I don't think I've seen Daniel Paul Anaya (as Vic) before, but he's a natural at comedy, and should get on the boards more often. Chris Gonzales stepped into the role of the cabbie just about a week before opening, but he pulls it off well.

Not many American playwrights produce this kind of full-length farce (Ken Ludwig comes to mind), but the Brits and the French seem to have a facility for it. Luckily, we can import their plays, and thus have a fun summer play at the Adobe.

Funny Money, a comedy by Ray Cooney directed by Andrea Haskett, at the Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW in Albuquerque, through July 30, 2017. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:00. Pay What You Will performance to benefit the cast and crew on Thursday, July 27, at 7:30. Tickets are $14 to $17. Info at adobetheater.org.


Privacy Policy