Thursday, 26 July 2012

Cash on Delivery - Review 3

Saturday 7th July 2012
by Sue Hutchison

THE Mill at Sonning has done it again. Cash on Delivery cooks up every ingredient necessary to produce a delicious farce in the best tradition of a dinner/theatre package, which this theatre’s regular audience loves so well.
Rikki Lawton, playing the central character Eric Swan, has woven a complicated web of deceit to outwit the authorities and claim benefits for an army of fictitious lodgers.
When it all becomes too complicated, he decides to kill them off with a variety of “accidents”. But the resulting mayhem — as real and make-believe characters collide — ensures a hilarious evening of first-class comedy.
The action starts as soon as the curtain rises. Eric begins to panic when a DSS inspector arrives unexpectedly, quickly followed by Sally, a dotty bereavement officer, beautifully played by Anita Graham. Then enter a psychiatrist, an undertaker, and finally a corpse who isn’t really dead (Uncle George, who has been Eric’s accomplice from the start).
As lies and more lies lead to even more confusion, the audience roars with laughter. The action throughout is perfectly timed, so quick that the actors struggle to keep straight faces themselves.
This is farce at its absolute best. The Mill has another winning show, giving their audiences a delicious evening of jolly entertainment.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

EastEnders Wednesday

Back at Elstree on wednesday morning to shoot a short scene for the top of an episode - only a couple of lines but very glad to know that Mr Lister lives on - then on to Sonning for another week of running around with eyebrows up.
(and back with EastEnders for two more scenes in a couple of weeks time)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Cash on Delivery - Review 2

Wednesday 4th July 2012
by Christopher Gray

In the very week that David Cameron declared war on “the benefit scroungers” the Mill at Sonning Dinner Theatre opened its revival of a splendid comedy that fully reveals the profits and perils associated with cashing in on — or in this case fraudulently exploiting — the availability of generous state hand-outs.
Michael Cooney’s 1997 farce Cash on Delivery focuses on Jack the lad East Ender Eric Swan, played with a cheeky charm, a fine sense of comic timing and considerable athleticism by watchable newcomer Rikki Lawton.
During a two-year campaign of peculation, of which his wife Linda (Helen Armes) is in utter ignorance, Eric has netted a fortune — “twenty-five thousand a year, no tax,” he gloats — by making false claims for himself and on behalf of an army of imaginary lodgers: “They just kept giving me all this money.”
Nor is it only money. Physical ailments — alopecia, back problems and the like — allegedly affecting the lodgers and their equally fictitious families have guaranteed a steady supply of wigs, corsets, stockings and outsize brassieres.
A misconstruction put on these when Linda discovers the stash leads her to call in a shrink (played by Brian Godfrey, who also directs) to deal with Eric’s supposed cross-dressing.
As it turns out, the only female impersonation we see comes from the Swans’ one genuine lodger, the nervous, nerdish Norman (Nick Wilton). He becomes complicit in Eric’s deception — much against his wishes — with the arrival of a snooping social security inspector (Eric Carte).
Hitherto, Eric’s only partner in crime has been his Uncle George (Michael Kirk), on whom much indignity is heaped during this day of disasters. His misfortunes include — so it appears — that of becoming a corpse, thereby requiring the presence of both a remarkably jovial undertaker (Royce Mills) and a simpering grief counsellor (Anita Graham).
For reasons I cannot begin to explain (far too complicated) Norman’s fiancĂ©e (Lynette McMorrough) believes the stretchered stiff to be her beloved, which sets yet more comic business in chain. All that is needed to complete this gloriously silly romp is the arrival of a big-bosomed benefits boss (Felicity Duncan), the dragon every farce requires.
As may have been guessed, Michael Cooney is related to veteran farceur Ray (son, in fact). The creative fecundity he displays here demonstrates he has absorbed all that dad could teach him and more. It’s a hoot.