Review: Funny Money, The Royalty Theatre, Sunderland, until Saturday

Cast members in the latest drama at The Royalty Theatre, Sunderland, 'Funny Money.' l-r back row Peter Kelly, John Appleton, Alan Bilton and Luke Riley. Seated are Jeff Page and Murial Waine

Cast members in the latest drama at The Royalty Theatre, Sunderland, 'Funny Money.' l-r back row Peter Kelly, John Appleton, Alan Bilton and Luke Riley. Seated are Jeff Page and Murial Waine

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WIFE-SWAPPING, foreign gangsters and crooked cops were on offer at The Royalty Theatre, in Ray Cooney’s farce Funny Money.

The play told the story of Henry Perkins, an unassuming accountant, who unwittingly picks up the wrong briefcase on the London underground, which to his initial horror then delight, is filled with thousands of pounds of dodgy cash.

Identity confusion, bribes and much innuendo follow in a head-spinning plot, as Henry, his wife and friends try to keep the cash under wraps while planning an escape to Barcelona.

The fast-paced script and great comic timing of the cast had the enthusiastic, albeit slightly sparse, audience laughing from beginning to end.

Although at first I was a tad dubious of the traditional farce style, by the second half I was giggling along with the rest of the theatre.

Jeff Page excelled and stole the show for me, as the over-worked accountant, Henry Perkins, eager to escape his London life for one on the run with the ill-gotten loot.

With the majority of the lines, all delivered with passion and force, Page was incredibly credible as a man on the brink of a life-changing experience.

Muriel Waine played the role of hand-wringing housewife Jean Perkins to great effect and her increasingly-inebriated state brought much joy to the audience, as she defiantly took to the sofa with blanket and pyjamas in a bid to stay at home rather than leave for the airport.

The Perkins’ friends Vic and Betty were portrayed by Peter Kelly, whose expressive eyebrows lent themselves nicely to slightly slow-witted Vic and newcomer to the Royalty, Dawn Sanderson.

The evening was surprisingly entertaining for me and what impressed me most of all was the fervour and professionalism of the cast who delivered the show with confidence and ease.

Tickets are on sale from Sunderland Tourist Information Centre on 553 2000.