‘Cash on Delivery’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 13, 2018

‘Cash on Delivery’ is a fast moving farce by London born playwright, Michael Cooney, who is the 50 yrs. old son of Ray Cooney, the king of farce playwrights. Michael, who now lives in New York, usually writes historical novels about little known American historical figures.

This two-hour frenetic farce can be seen at the friendly Melville Theatre on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway in Palmyra. With curtain up at 8.00 pm, it plays on Thursday Friday and Saturday nights until 19th September; there is one a 2.00 pm matinée, which is on Sunday 23rd.

The much admired, multi-award winning Melville Theatre Group started life in the Melville Civic Centre theatre, moving to the Roy Edinger Centre in 1987; but once again, it looks as though this home has its days numbered. There is talk that the Players will return to the Melville Civic centre – but who knows?

 

The scene: It is the present day at 344 Chilton Road in London’s East End. It is 9.00 on a windy October morning.

The attractive set: was designed by Georgina Kling: Like every good farce, the smartly decorated sitting room has several doors and a staircase. The white walls had a waist high chair / hand rail, with broad pastel pink and pale green striped wallpaper below. There is a bay window with a box seat and an oak front door leads straight into the living room.

The solidly constructed and beautifully finished set was the work of Peter Bloor, Sean Bullock, Jacob Jensen, Georgina Kling, Vici Richardson, Tom Gregory, Kathleen O’Toole and Dave Miller.

Brilliant work by stage manager, Vici Richardson and her assistant Chris Kennedy; they had numerous ‘effects’ – both human and mechanical – to cope with at the end of the play.

The fine lighting design was by Virginia Moore Price, Lars Jensen and Jacob Jensen and smoothly operated by Abbie Wilson. The room lighting was exceptional, with a good even light spread over the whole stage. I know that you were probably up against the stage’s rear wall, but perhaps a touch more daylight outside the window, and can the ‘special light’ be placed outside the bay window? The accompanying lighting effects worked very well.

       When pleasant family man, Eric (Peter Neaves) lost his job, he decided to claim unemployment benefit not only for himself, but for nervous, shy Norman (Peter Bloor), one of his lodgers. Norman is anxious because at the weekend he is to marry his wonderful fiancée, Brenda (Jodi Vickers).

     Soon Eric finds himself up to his neck in benefits from almost every known government department, and so decides to come clean and ‘phone the various departments to cancel the claims.

     Not aware of Eric’s scams, his caring wife, Linda (Victoria Dixon) is exasperated by her husband’s behaviour, and on finding a box hidden in a cupboard, is convinced that the love of her life has serious medical problem, and so calls in Dr Chapman (Sharon Menzies) for advice and consolation.

     It isn’t long before the bumptious Social Security official, Mr. Jenkins (Michael Dornan) calls at the house. Eric rapidly passes his illegal and horrendous situation onto poor Norman, who has no idea what is going on. Confused by identities, Mr Jenkins tightens the screws, even threatening to involve Ms Cowper (Lis Hoffmann) the most deadly government official known to man, Norman comes out with some inventive logic.

     When the loveable rogue, Uncle George (Bob Charteris) innocently calls in on his way home from his work in the Petticoat Lane markets, within seconds he is entrapped. A knock on the front door reveals an over-caring, social worker, Sally Chessington (Pip Tompson) who is dedicated to her job. On hearing that there has been a death in the house, she has already asked undertaker, Mr. Forbright (Sean Bullock) to call around.

     The situation becomes even more riotous as Eric heads for jail.

 

The actors all had to join in the turmoil of disbelief, confusion and strange logic; some were constantly panic-stricken, others oozed innocence whilst keeping a pan face. This is the kind of production that demands perfect chemistry, otherwise the illusion would collapse.

The two Peters were outstanding as the confused villains, with Victoria and Lis convincingly frightening as the angry women. Pip, Sharon and Jodi were delightful as the caring, but totally confused visitors; with Sean wonderful as the sombre, efficient undertaker. Michael and Bob are always good for a laugh, but in this show they really suffered for their art – brilliant.

This whole play is ridiculous, rib-tickling, ‘chewing gum for the mind’ – but is so much fun. The script is exceptionally cleverly constructed. It is a complex storyline, but with this talented cast and their perfect pace and timing, the whole tale is very easy to follow. Although I wonder how the actors managed to learn their script.

After moving to Perth from London three years ago, director Georgina Kling (with years of theatre experience in all departments) had this old Whitehall comedy tucked at the back of her brain, and so chose this for her first Perth play as director. Welcome Georgina, your talents will be well appreciated

This is a completely riotous fun show for everyone from 14 – 90, presented by a perfectly cast team of talented comic actors.