2016 saw the return of the lovely Malcolm MacIntosh to direct the farce – Tons of Money – by Will Evans and Arthur Valentine, revised by Alan Ayckbourn in 1986.
Tons of Money was originally performed in 1922 as the first of the famous ‘Aldwych’ farces but Alan Ayckburn revised it in 1986, and the National Theatre produced this version with Michael Gambon and Simon Cadell.
It tells the story of Aubrey and Louise Allington, who like to live in style with a butler, maid, gardener and cook but are desperately strapped for cash with enormous debts. Aubrey is an unsuccessful inventor and as the play begins, he inherits a fortune. However this will revert on his death to his cousin George Maitland. But cousin George is believed to have died already, so they have the madcap idea of faking Aubrey’s death so that he can ‘resurrect’ himself as his cousin George, and thus avoid paying his many creditors.
However, this being a farce, events naturally do not go according to plan. Complications arise in the form of George’s long lost wife, Jean. Then another ‘George Maitland’ impostor, the butler’s brother, arrives on the scene to claim the inheritance, and finally the real George Maitland turns up.
With Alan Ayckbourn’s stamp on things, there were multiple impersonations, mistaken identities, and a near naked man with just a cushion to protect his dignity – all great fun and done in the ‘best possible taste’!