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Comedy has ‘Tons’ of laughs

Maurice Barnfather

Glendale Centre Theatre’s 56th anniversary season production of “Tons

of Money” reminds us why playwright Alan Ayckbourn was once dubbed,

by a German critic, the Moliere of the middle classes.

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Marshaling his forces with great skill and a sharp eye for detail,

George Strattan’s revival, in spite of occasional uncertainties of

tone, builds up a tremendous head of comic steam and is, quite

simply, shamelessly enjoyable.

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“Tons of Money” was one of the most successful London plays during

the 1920s and the first of what came to be known as the “Aldwych

farces,” a series of absurd comedies that played until 1933. Written

by Will Evans and Arthur Valentine, “Tons of Money” was revised by

Ayckbourn in the 1980s, retaining the spirit of the original while

changing some of the verbal gags. The basic story, however, remains

the same.

Unsuccessful inventor Aubrey Allington inherits a fortune, which

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reverts on his death to his cousin, George Maitland. As cousin George

is thought to have died abroad, Aubrey’s wife, Louise, has the

brilliant idea of Aubrey “dying” so he can be resurrected as his

cousin and thus avoid paying his enormous debts.

In the best tradition of farce, complications arise in the form of

George’s wife, another Maitland impostor (the butler’s brother) and

finally, the real George Maitland!

Tim Dietlein and Strattan’s ingeniously skeletal set produces the

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perfect space for James Castle Stevens’ dilettantish Aubrey and for

Nikki Jones’ superb, breezy jollity, as Louise. Richard Malmos is

outstanding as the butler Sprules, one of a clutch of laconic,

lustful and conspiratorial domestics, while Jim Barkley is a

scene-stealer as Henery, Sprules’ brother and one of the Maitland

impostors, with a performance that can be likened only to Robin

Williams on steroids.


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