Farcical laugh fest opens Friday

Norman McDonald (Dustin Curtins), receives some shocking news from bereavement counselor Sally Chessington (Joyce Napoletano).  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Norman McDonald (Dustin Curtins), receives some shocking news from bereavement counselor Sally Chessington (Joyce Napoletano).
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

“Cash on Delivery” is a bit like watching the “Benny Hill Show” play out in real-life. The plot winds up for a few minutes and then launches into two hours of total mayhem.

The show opens at the Whidbey Playhouse Friday, April 9, and it’s a full-on British farce. It centers on Eric Swan (Ken Peckenpaugh) who has been defrauding the government for two years by claiming benefits for an army of fictitious lodgers. They all suffer from a variety of ailments entitling them to monthly support checks.

His wife Linda (Dulcey Whyte) is oblivious and as the play begins, Eric finds it’s getting too complicated. He wants out. But as he tries to extricate himself by murdering off his imaginary tenants the welfare authorities show up.

To outwit investigators, Eric is forced to enlist characters to play the people he’s created. His real-life tenant Norman (Dustin Curtis) and his Uncle George (Allen Young) get sucked into the ruse.

Naturally, things begin to unravel and the lies become more creative. People get knocked out, men dress as women and doors will slam (they built three for maximum effect).

Despite the chaos, playwrite Michael Cooney cleverly constructed the situations to seem kind of believable. It’s also reined in by first-time director Bob Hendrix and a director well-known in Anacortes, Melissa Bridges.

“The hardest part is doing the show as written. During rehearsal we laugh so hard we can get off track,” Bridges said.

The pace is just as manic as it needs to be in this comedy and the cast does a great job with the slapstick. In fact, as Curtis’ unwitting character drowns in panic, the set is given the ultimate stress test.

“The set really takes a beating,” Curtis said, who can be seen running full-speed into walls and doors.

The committed cast bring a lot of energy to the loony characters and they are clearly enjoying themselves. No doubt their audiences will, too.

The show opens April 9 and closes May 1. Tickets are $16 and groups of ten or more receive a $1 discount on each play. Call the box office at 679-2237 for further information or check out the Web site at The Whidbey Playhouse is located at 730 SE Midway Blvd. in Oak Harbor.

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