Cash On Delivery at Community Theatre League

Tonight I saw the British farce, Cash On Delivery at the Community Theatre League. I think I will write more extensively on this experience because I don’t think I have been giving enough attention to theater artists. Every artist would like a serious writer to devote some serious thought to his work.

I was kind of tired this evening and for some reason I really wanted to daydream about an idealized university. This has become a habit when I am siting in the theater of the McDade Trade and Transit Centre. I think this theater reminds me of a college theater but it is associated with a reimagined downtown scene so it encourages me to get into a surreal mental state. It is difficult to describe inspiration but the Community Theatre League’s performance space always causes me some cognitive dissonance. I only mention this because I was almost more interested in my own reverie than I was in the show until it started.

I’d never heard of this play. The title is misleading because the play has nothing to do with deliveries. The play is a comedy about an unemployed British man who is defrauding various government social agencies by making up bogus claims for his imaginary tenants. When caseworkers show up with some documents to sign, he has to keep the farce going by juggling mistaken identities. The action of the play was rather complex because you had to follow the conflicting stories and misunderstandings of multiple characters. I could identify with the story because I work for a community action agency which also provides social services on behalf of the government.

The actors used terrible British accents, not that I minded. There were a few references to British culture but fortunately my trip to London gave me the necessary background to understand the play. It is particularly important to understand the local government in the UK which is made up of councils. For example, a council flat is a housing project.

The subject matter of this play is bound to delight conservatives who like to imagine that there is massive welfare fraud but since the play takes place in the United Kingdom I don’t think it is as political here as it might be. I thought the play was hysterical and the audience could not stop laughing.

I sat in the front row at stage level so I had to be careful to keep my feet tucked in, or I would have tripped the actors as they ran by me. And since this was a farce, there were often actors running across the stage. When you have a play based on mistaken identities you often have people running off.

The stage design was impressive for community theater. Of course, it is easy to throw some furniture on the stage but the backdrop was a realistic front wall. The window was particularly interesting because it appeared to be using some sort of 3D effect to give the illusion of depth.

I never have anything to say about the actors but they probably want some recognition. Keith Wagner (Eric Swan) had the starring role which required a lot of reaction to events which he managed beautifully. Brian McKeon (Norman McDonald) also gave a good performance reacting to nonstop craziness. And Laura Hartranft (Linda Swan) managed just the right touch of indignation. 

The next play I will see is Clybourne Park at the Pittsburgh Public Theater (O’Reilly Theater in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Cultural District). I already have my ticket. This theater is where August Wilson premiered his last play shortly before he died. I entered my best script in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

Still no word on the staged reading of my ten minute plays in New York City and Los Angeles. I did recently write another ten minute play for a promising contest. Getting a staged reading of a ten minute play does not appear to have been a particularly difficult goal. So I have written a full length play. Unfortunately I don’t think it is very good. I’m not sure I want to do anything with it. I think I need to outline more action for a full length play.

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