The play takes place in the decaying manor house of Holden Latimer (Jack Parrish) and his new bride, Catherine (Jan Guarino). Parrish sets this live-action cartoon into motion with wide angles, bulging eyes and a seedy narcissism. After repelling the advances of his new bride, he cruelly admits that he married only for money.
Catherine, jacked up on romance novels, is none too pleased by Holden's admission. Sexual frustration turns to murderous intent after her decrepit family attorney (Woody Eney, in an audience-tickling performance) stammers his way though an explanation of the dubious legal position of a married woman in 1894.
Director K Strong gives the all-Equity five-person cast a shove in the right direction and wisely gets out of the way as the show careens out of control. Guarino and Parrish are both accomplished performers who know how to execute the pratfalls, double takes and vaudevillian eye rolls the material deserves. The production is particularly refreshing because it doesn't have the overrehearsed sensation generated by too many Richmond shows.
Every proper farce requires a zany domestic staff. Catherine Shaffner and Andrew C. Boothby deliver the goods with the same dexterity for screwball humor displayed by the rest of the cast.
Terrie Powers' set and Sue Griffin's period costumes are of surprisingly high quality given the short two-week run. Like the rest of the show, their designs are marked by a skillful awareness of how to please an audience without appearing to try too hard. Jerrell Nickerson
"Money Matters" continues through May 25 at Barksdale Theatre. Tickets are $25; call 282-2620.
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