Monday, May 18, 2015

A Review of Tons of Money

by Toni Wilson Wood

Waterloo - Alan Ayckbourn's Tons of Money is a hilarious farcical romp about indebtedness, inheritance, and imposters. This is the first show directed by Brian McCarty at Waterloo Community Playhouse and he has done a fine job with this show. What I love about McCarty’s approach to this show is that he’s really gathered together wonderful actors who meld together as an ensemble--each actor, no matter how big or small his or her part is, gives everything he or she can to the role--and you can see that in the performance.

There are some problems with the script--which is not the problem of the director, cast or anyone else involved with this production. I mention it so you can suspend your disbelief. The first scene of the first act is kind of clunky, but that’s how the script was written. The scenarios that the characters get into are ridiculous to the point of thinness--how on earth would any of this actually happen to anyone? The audience the night I saw the show had a strange energy to it that didn’t help the clunkiness of the first scene. Once the story actually gets on its feet running, the show is fast paced and hilarious.

Tons of Money is about a failed inventor, Aubrey Allington, who is always in debt, and always trying to figure out how to get out of paying his debts. When he discovers he is in line for an inheritance, but won’t receive the whole amount of money because of his debts, he decides to fake his death and come back as his long lost cousin, George Maitland, who is in line to get the inheritance after Aubrey’s death.

Andrew Bouska plays Aubrey with such seriousness about his ridiculous situation that you can’t help but laugh, especially when things backfire. Bouska has wonderful comic timing and is a joy to watch, especially when things go badly for his character. While Tons of Money was not as physical as Noises Off (but then again, what show is?), his physicality in his role as inventor and imposter is well done. Bouska is nothing less than hilarious in this show.

Molly Bertch plays Aubrey’s wife, Louise, in her debut performance at WCP, and this will surely not be her last. She gleefully comes up with the plan that involves Aubrey faking his death not once but twice. Bertch glows in this role and she and Bouska play well off each other.

Adam Osterhaus is delightfully square as the lawyer Chesterman, who not only delivers the good news of the inheritance, but the twist at the end.

David Elliot Marsh plays the butler, Sprules, with the kind of straight man dryness generally associated with the role--but it isn’t until the second act that you see his talents really shine, as he desperately attempts to signal in many different ways to his undercover man, his brother, Henery (played delightfully confusingly by Jens Petersen) who is after the tons of money as well.

None of the cast is more confused than poor Joel Zummak who plays George Maitland (yes, the real one). As he finds himself sucked into what appears to be the most insane house in all of Britain, I am sure that he can’t help but wonder if the tons of money was worth coming all the way from Mexico.

B.J. Moeller is riotously funny as the slightly acerbic and hard of hearing Miss Mullett. When she’s not constantly losing her knitting or berating everyone for yelling at her, she’s jabbing at each of the different Georges so pointedly that each is reduced to stuttering.

Nicole Pressley plays Jean Everard, George Maitland’s wife and friend of Louise’s from the United States. Pressley plays this character with slight daftness, as she claims that each George she meets is definitely the real George. She romps after each of the Georges with playful titillation. I haven’t seen Pressley on the stage before, but I look forward to seeing her acting again.

Rounding out the cast are Robyn Kuykendall as the cook, Simpson, and Christopher Abram as the gardener, Giles. Like Marsh, Kuyendall’s true talents aren’t seen until later in the play. She and Marsh have some wonderful comic bits that will crack you up. Abram is fantastic in his role of Giles. This is his debut on any stage and he’s bound to be on the stage again. His physicality and timing are beautiful.

I would be remiss if I did not mention how beautiful the set is. The dining and living room of the Allington house is sumptuous and lovely.

Do yourself a favor and go see this show. Tons of Money truly is tons of funny. Don’t miss it!

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