Cash on Delivery: Ray Cooney’s son makes getting laughs an uphill battle.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Community Theatre

After many years of Ray Cooney farces, it appears the mantle of farce writing has fallen on to the shoulders of son Michael.

The younger Cooney has certainly learned the conventions of farce: confused situations, often rooted in a key lie, slamming doors, mistaken identities, semi-naked, dead or near-dead bodies, stereotypes and, if possible, satirical attacks on government institutions.

The recipe is in evidence in Cash on Delivery, but that does not make it a good play. And despite the fact that the Kanata Theatre production, which opened this week, is clearly the result of hard work and good intentions, it just isn’t very funny.

Farce is admittedly an acquired taste (which I have never acquired) but there are also some basic issues with this show. Director Rosemary Keneford, who usually does a first-class job in creating a fast-paced, ensemble show and is often at her best with this genre, has not had the same success with Cash on Delivery.

On a very rudimentary level, it is impossible to maintain the required shotgun pacing while there is uncertainty about lines. Awkward pauses, as well as such stage business as characters running offstage in tears over and over again become boring (even if there is a stage direction to that effect). Requiring a performer to wear embarrassingly revealing long underwear without the type of protector used for sports is simply unnecessary.

In this convoluted tale of landlord Eric Swan’s attempt to defraud the fictitious Department of Social Security by claiming benefits for fictitious lodgers, Barry Caiger, as the government inspector, offers a stylish and well-timed performance. Dwayne Aylward as the real lodger and enforced co-conspirator and Brooke Keneford as the fraudster work hard but they and the rest of the cast have an uphill battle in cashing the laughs from Michael Cooney’s script.

Cash on Delivery continues at Kanata Theatre to April 2.

Cash on Delivery

By Michael Cooney

Kanata Theatre

Director: Rosemary Keneford

Set: Susan V. Phillips

Costumes: Kathryn Clarke, Jennifer Crocker, Susan Flockton, Elizabeth Pearson

Sound: Gerry Thompson

Lighting: Sudarsan Narasimhan

Cast:

Eric Swan                                                      Brooke Keneford

Linda Swan                                                   Jenefer Haynes

Norman McDonald                                       Dwayne Aylward

Mr. Jenkins                                                    Barry Caiger

Uncle George                                                Lionel King

Sally Chessington                                          Barbara Kobolak

Dr. Chapman                                                 Janet Rice

Mr. Forbright                                                 Martin Weeden

Ms. Cowper                                                   Gwen Knight

Brenda Dixon                                                Dayna MacDonald


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