“Money Matters” the final Jewel Box Theatre production for the season gives the audience a sense of delightful farce and British style comedy. Carole Brendlinger submitted “Money Matters” to the Jewel Box Original Playwriting Competition in 2002 and earned a well-deserved first place for the script. Don Taylor directs this production which has been brought back by audience demand. Taylor does a marvelous job of directing; actors have the opportunity to deliver some truly great one-liners and the audience has the opportunity to appreciate those moments. The action takes place in 1894, the basic story concerns a young questionably principled gentleman who decides to rescue his family status by marrying money, but he is unable to open his heart to his enthusiastic bride due to his mis-understanding of propriety. The young bride has married for freedom, marriage brings some independence to a woman and this is what she craves. There is lots of sexual innuendo revealed through double entendre—a very amusing set up.
One envisions Cary Grant in the lead role automatically. The actor Taylor has chosen comes close enough as a second choice to make the audience forget about the debonair Grant, and enjoy the interpretation of Chris Briscoe. His portrayal of Holden Latimer, a man who has no understanding of women is excellent and highly amusing.
Another Kris, Kris Schinske portrays the bright young bride and heiress, Catherine Latimer. Her expressions are hysterical, her timing is perfect and her physical understanding of the time frame is exact. This is a case of perfect casting on the part of the director and Schinske handles her character with the surface wit and interest indicative of the times, yet gives the audience a glimpse into her heart without any flutters – simply by using a flutter or two!
The old family solicitor, Mr. Pemberton, is well executed by Paul Smith. His rendition of a brilliant lawyer whose age has allowed him to become comfortable, so he is secure enough to not worry about those senior moments and this makes his confusion in the dialogue realistic. His ability to keep a straight face is outstanding.
Emily Mitchell is Annie Malloy, Mrs. Latimer’s long time Irish maid. Her brogue is very nicely done, however her strength is definitely in the reactions to the confusing events and her double takes are priceless. She has a wide-eyed stare with big baby blues indicating the mid-Victorian ‘whatever’ that draws the modern audience in with ease.
Randall Hunter plays Kendrick, the butler who has been with the Latimer family for many years. This character is the glue that holds the play together because, as is often the case, it is the butler who holds the family together. He seems ready for any curve that may be thrown to him and takes care of necessary business without the slightest blink of the eye. Yet, Hunter is able to convey to the audience with his subtle expressions an absolute understanding of the stupidity and desperation of his master’s plight. He is the perfect butler and brings to mind the Jeeves we have always loved in P. G. Wodehouse.
The last scene of the show seems a little weak, possibly some dialogue has been cut out. If this is accidental, upcoming performances will be stronger as the dialogue indicating transitions is restored. Nevertheless, the actors are able to overcome the slight confusion to bring everything back together for the end. The show is appropriate for most audiences; however it is the wiser generations who will appreciate it the most.”
“Money Matters” appears at the Jewel Box Theatre through May 8. Performances are at 8pm Thursday through Saturday with Sunday matinees at 2:30. The Jewel Box Theatre is located at the First Christian Church, 36th & Walker in Oklahoma City. First Christian Church sponsors Jewel Box Theatre. The address is 3700 N. Walker. For additional information visit Jewelboxtheatre.org or call the box office at 405.521-1786, Tuesday through Friday afternoon. Performance dates are through May 8. For the review posted on Newsok.com, click the link: newsok.com