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
Director: Rosemary Keneford
Set: Susan V. Phillips
Costumes: Kathryn Clarke, Jennifer Crocker, Susan Flockton, Elizabeth Pearson
Sound: Gerry Thompson
Lighting: Sudarsan Narasimhan
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