Woodley Theatre is splashing the cashBy Caroline Cook
July 25, 2012
When your lead actor falls ill and has to pull out of the play just a few weeks before the curtain is up, you could find yourself in a bit of a pickle.
But, when faced with the dilemma ahead of Woodley Theatre’s latest show, director Neil Oxley threw down his script and jumped on to the stage because – as they say in the business – the show must go on.
“We had to swap the cast around because our lead got ill and I was originally directing, but now I’m in it,” said Neil.
“I’ve really enjoyed it, you see a completely different side to things.”
Handing over the director’s reins to pal Laurence Cann, Neil set about learning his lines for Ray Cooney’s Funny Money.
The 1994 play follows Henry, who is travelling home for a birthday dinner when he accidentally picks up the wrong briefcase on the train.
Finding the new briefcase stuffed with cash, Henry decides to sell up and emigrate to Barcelona, and quickly, before whoever owns the cash catches up
But with a policeman and a gangster (the discreetly named Mr Nasty) on his tail, Henry’s plan doesn’t quite run as smoothly as he hopes.
“It’s by Ray Cooney, who is well-known for his farce,” explained Nick. “It’s not an ‘oo-er drop your trousers’ farce though.
“It’s about a guy with a suitcase full of money who is trying to keep the cash without getting killed or ending up in prison.
“My character is very farcical and keeps asking the wrong questions, pretty much like me in real-life,” joked Neil.
Packed full of mistaken identity and chaos, the play keeps the audience, and the actors, on their toes, with characters running in and out at precisely the most inopportune moments.
“I wanted to do Funny Money because I had not done a farce for a long time and I came across it and it made me laugh,” said Neil.
“It’s not a huge cast either, which I like, and I figured if it makes me laugh it will hopefully make others laugh too.”
The cast have been sharing plenty of giggles on set during rehearsals, which have been longer than usual as the company had to postpone the original show times due to their lead having to step down.
“We didn’t want to cancel it because everyone was having fun, so we put it back a few weeks,” said Neil.
“Rehearsals have been going very well and the cast are fantastic.
“We’ve got to the stage where we want someone to come in and laugh at us now.”
- Funny Money is at Woodley Theatre in the Oakwood Centre, Headley Road, from today until Saturday, July 28. To book call 07939 210 121.