“CASH ON DELIVERY,” through March 17, Hale Centre Theatre Jewel Box Stage, 9900 S. Monroe St., Sandy (801-984-9000 or hct.org); running time: 2 hours (one intermission)
SANDY — Here’s the deal: The first half hour of “Cash On Delivery” is a bit like standing in a long line at the bank.
But the 30-minute investment at the beginning of Hale Centre Theatre’s newest comedy is well worth the laughter payout for the rest of the two-hour show. However slow the script may be at first, the introduction lays important groundwork for the inside jokes and absurdity to come.
The show, set in early 1990s London, centers on Eric Swann, played by Bryan Dayley (Monday/Wednesday/Friday), and his swindling schemes. Not long after poor Eric lost his job, he received a Social Security check addressed to a former tenant. Being tight on money (and not wanting to mention the layoff to his wife), Eric cashed the check and kept the funds.
The longer Eric is unemployed, the more his stories and government allotments compound. He dupes the system with fictional tenants who have myriad misfortunes, needing everything from sick pay to housing benefits to wigs, which he resells via his Uncle George, played by George Anderson (M/W/F).
At the beginning of the comedy, Eric is trying to rectify some of his fibs just as Mr. Jenkins, an inspector from the Department of Social Security, comes knocking to verify some claims from the extraordinarily large file of people who reside in Eric’s home.
Mr. Jenkins, meticulously played by Mark Fotheringham (M/W/F), isn’t the only one who visits the casa of chaos. Throughout the show an undertaker, a do-gooder, a marriage counselor, a fiancée, a supervisor and a tenant also run, stumble, fall and storm through the set.
Then there is Eric’s wife, Linda Swann, played by Michelle Linn Hall (M/W/F), who senses that something is off with her husband and enlists a marriage counselor. As Linda, Hall’s mannerisms are detailed and her character’s suspicions add another silly layer to the show. As Eric, Dayley is the energetic center of the craziness and effectively guides the show through all of its twists and tall tales.
Some of the funniest exchanges, however, involve the bright-eyed — and only true — tenant Norman McDonald, played by Greg Larsen (M/W/F), who pretends to be deaf, and Sally Chessington, portrayed by Margie Johnson (M/W/F), who tries her hand at sign language to communicate with him.Comment on this story
Audience members with a penchant for puns will appreciate the clever word play, some of which garner delayed reactions as the audience members process them. Those who aren’t as wowed by wit will enjoy the physical humor and the jokes among all the whoppers.
By the end of the show it seems like there’s no way Eric can avoid the comeuppance he has so strenuously and hilariously avoided the entire two acts. But, as the saying goes, the best things come to those who wait, and this adage proves true for Eric — and the audience — in “Cash on Delivery.”
Content advisory: Some sexual innuendo, including references to transvestites and cross-dressing, and mild swearing.