Tons of Money
Review by Katie Rankin
In the words of rapper The Notorious B.I.G., “The more money we come across the more problems we see.” This statement has never been more true than in the clever comedy romp Tons of Money now playing at The Montgomery Theatre. The play, set in roaring twenties England, is complete with ragtime music and gorgeous costumes that would make Daisy Buchanan green with envy.
It centers around husband and wife Aubrey and Louise Allington. It’s made clear early on that they’re extremely poor money managers when Louise rationalizes that they should throw an expensive party for all the people they owe money to in order to tell them they can’t pay off their debt. Their money woes seem taken care of when they receive word that Aubrey has inherited his dead brother’s fortune. That is until Louise, the more devious of the two, realizes their new-found fortune will go to their creditors, not to new dresses and champagne. So instead she concocts a scheme (the line “Aubrey, I have an idea” becomes a familiar one) in which Aubrey will fake his own death and return disguised as his cousin George (pronounced Hor-hey) who has been living in Mexico and is next in line for the inheritance.
This is where the madness sets in with everyone getting tangled in the mess of lies. Even the butler and maid have a George impostor coming to claim the fortune, while the real George is also on his way. Much of the comedy depends heavily on the cast’s delivery of the quick-witted script and Rebecca Parent as Louise and Bruce Davies as Aubrey pull it off. Davies must switch perfectly between a British and American accent on cue and eventually a Scottish one. As well, Rob Roy’s strange and befuddled farmer Giles is a treat, refusing to go into the kitchen because he’s fighting with the chef, he awkwardly places eggs on a living room chair.
The play also demands physical comedy chops and Parent shines, particularly in a scene after her husband’s “death” where she is gleefully reading a book alone one second and wailing and flailing herself all over the room the minute the butler enters. Jemima Sutherland, who plays George’s estranged wife is also excellent, throwing herself at every George, real or fake, that walks in the door.
As a comedy, there’s nothing new about Tons of Money, which is to be expected for a play written 90 years ago, and perhaps that’s why it works so well. Laughs come easy, like when Sprules the butler, played by Jim Watson, speaks to his boss after a brief make-out session with the maid, unaware his lips are covered in lipstick. The enthusiastic cast is what brings the script to life and whether it’s a character walking in wearing only fish netting or lines like “It’s dull being a widow,” you’ll laugh. Tons of Money runs at The Montgomery Theatre until August 24.