Few things in theater are as dependable as the “slamming-door farce.” This kind of broad comedy full of sight gags and confusion is always good for at least a few giggles. But it takes a special talent to turn a farce into the kind of ferocious fun that can leave you breathless with laughter. Tom Width, director of “Cash on Delivery” at Swift Creek Mill Playhouse, has that kind of talent. Thanks to Width’s sense of pace and timing, “Cash” careens from scene to scene, growing in absurdity and comic momentum. It’s all as light as a feather, but it tickles just the same.
At the center of all the mayhem is Eric Swan (Richard Koch), an unemployed Londoner who has been scamming the British Social Security system by claiming benefits on behalf of nonexistent tenants in his house. When he tries to pull the plug on the scam and kill off some of his “tenants,” he suddenly finds himself besieged by bureaucrats wanting answers. In his attempts to produce the bodies, both living and dead, that the government is looking for, Swan whips up a whirlwind of hilarious confusion.
Koch shines as the ever-improvising swindler, never missing a beat as the plot thickens into pea soup. He is assisted wonderfully by Jim Smith as the reluctant partner-in-crime, Norman McDonald, who is forced to change from one tenant to the next at the drop of Swan’s hat. And Paul Deiss delivers a rock-solid performance as Mr. Jenkins, the only bureaucrat who can keep Swan’s story straight even when Swan can’t.
There are a few clunky performances among the supporting cast members, but the play’s principals steamroll through the rough parts with assurance. As a fluffy bit of fun that will have you laughing in spite of yourself, “Cash on Delivery” pays off handsomely.
“Cash on Delivery” plays at Swift Creek Mill Playhouse Wednesday-Saturday through Aug. 7. Tickets are $18.50-$30. Call 748-5203 for