DramaSoc promised us “death, debt, debauchery and downright silliness” with their production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Tons of Money and they didn’t disappoint. This weekend, the Barn has been absolutely lit up by a colorful farcical comedy with all the classic constituents- mistaken identity, a convoluted plot and vast overreactions. The twists and turns and complications are facilitated by a directorial team that had their work cut out for them but hit the nail on the head with faultless comic timing, slick blocking and a perfect set. Jacob Seldon and Hugh Pomeroy have put on an unforgettable comedy.
The directorial team hit the nail on the head with faultless comic timing, slick blocking and a perfect set.
The play follows a distinct trajectory from chaos to chaos, with repeated promises of resolution that never quite follow through. An unsuccessful, debt-ridden inventor, Aubrey Allington, and his wife Louise, are presented with a solution to all of their money troubles when Aubrey’s brother dies and leaves them a large sum. Quickly realising that the money would go no further than to simply pay off their existing debt, the couple hatch a plan to avoid this, a faultless plot so long as definitely dead cousin George Maitland does not show up to claim his stake in the money. I’m sure you can guess how that turns out. Freya Dawes has impeccable comic timing as the brains behind her husband’s madness, and Henry Longstaff is the textbook over the top artist. Faked deaths (yes, plural), innuendos and a few thrown punches later, the play ends with the same uncertainty with which it began, Aubrey Allington no less at the centre of the fuss than before.
The ostentatious set matches the champagne taste of the leading couple, and lends itself brilliantly to the farce, with two doors that provide the location for the timeless gag of characters just missing each other as they head in and out of each exit. It also allowed characters to make comedy when they were not part of the main action, and perpetuates a delicious dramatic irony that exists throughout the entire play.
Leo Jarvis and Kate Coulson make a delightful duo of Sprules and Simpson, whose plot to steal all those ‘tons of money’ for themselves goes hilariously haywire, and they provide the perfect foil to the leading couple of Aubrey and Louise. Coulson’s eternal pout, ditsy commitment to Sprules’ plan and wonderfully over the top portrayal of her stock character is hysterical. Alice Lloyd Davies gives an absolutely stand out performance as Miss Mullet, whose constant, false, reassurances of “don’t shout, I’m not deaf”, right up until the final bows, had the audience in stitches. Another star presented itself with Euan Brook, as the gardener Giles, and his often monosyllabic interruptions to the plot which, although completely irrelevant, spun a subtext that made the main action all the funnier.
The speed of the plot, however, did sometimes impact on the speed of the dialogue, which was occasionally lost to tripped over lines in the commotion of the storyline. This did not impact, though, on a wonderful evening in the Barn, sure to turn anyone’s winter blues into laughter.
Despite the occasional hiccup, Tons Of Money is a hugely entertaining and surprisingly ambitious night out with plenty of laughs throughout.