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.
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.
“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
Unsuccessful inventor Aubrey Allington inherits a fortune, which
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
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.