Abba’s ‘Money, Money, Money’ blares out of the speakers at Royal Court Liverpool to remind the audience of exactly what the play is all about.
As we sit in our seats - excited at the prospect of being entertained for just over two hours by this new production of Ray Cooney’s Funny Money – those of us tuned into the news recently have been further reminded about how playing the Euro lottery could land us with millions of pounds. And we do dream, about money that is.
We can’t help it. So what would you do if you are suddenly in possession of, let’s say, £2m? Well, it’s a choice Danny Perkins (Neil Caple) has to make in Leslie Lawton’s new adaptation of Cooney’s sixteen-year-old play.
He has come into possession of a briefcase - he thought belonged to him - on the 86 bus home and finds £2m cash inside. His immediate thought is to get home and book a holiday with his wife Jean (Eithne Browne), and starts packing his suitcase. Suddenly the couple are visited by a number of invited and none invited guests.
A number of unimaginable scenarios follow on from this, like those you’d find in an episode of Fawlty Towers.
Caple is hardly off the stage as he switches from one detective investigating his behaviour to another investigating his mistaken death, albeit he plays along with it pretending to be one of many different people.
Those fully aware of the real goings on, thus his friends Vic (Mark Moraghan) and Betty (Jane Hogarth) act as his allies to the point of wanting a bit of the action.
Funny moments in Funny Money come through Taxi driver Bill (Roy Davis) who makes audience members chuckle every time he appears on stage, as he shows confusion at all that is happening around him. Although, we the audience - as we discover in the end - shouldn’t be that naïve to his dim behaviour.
Caple and Moraghan, making his first appearance on the Royal Court stage, show good comic chemistry. Especially when their characters, in one scene, try hiding the briefcase containing the cash from the view of the detectives, whilst both being under a blanket on the living room sofa.
Lawton’s decision to include recognisable locations such as the Fiveways pub, where Danny first discovers the money, and to have Danny’s home based in Childwall within this adaptation is clever. It makes a further connection to the audience – almost as though it is saying: this could happen to you.
Billy Meall’s living room set never changes throughout and as we, the audience, sit staring at the same ‘three walls’ we are blind to who will walk through the front door next. And this adds to that sense of the unexpected being created.
There are many twists and turns delivered by a talented ensemble of eight in this adaptation of Funny Money and it fits nicely alongside the type of productions you’re likely to have seen at Royal Court Liverpool.
It’s comedy with the odd bit of naughtiness but overall it’s just a bit of fun.