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2017-05-17 / News

Swift Creek presents “Cash on Delivery”

BY RICH GRISET STAFF WRITER


Brenda Dixon (Emma Mason), with Mr. Forbright (Bartley Mullin), reacts to the news that her fiance is dead. Her fiance is actually alive, but faking his death is part of swindler Eric Swan’s scam. 
ASH DANIEL Brenda Dixon (Emma Mason), with Mr. Forbright (Bartley Mullin), reacts to the news that her fiance is dead. Her fiance is actually alive, but faking his death is part of swindler Eric Swan’s scam. ASH DANIEL When it comes to staging ridiculous farces, Tom Width knows the trick is all in the timing.

“The technical challenge of these things [is] keeping up the pace. I tell my actors, you wind the springs tight, and then you just let it go,” says Swift Creek Mill Theatre’s longtime artistic director. “You can’t slow it down, or the characters would [have time to] think it through.”

Width and company are gearing up for this week’s opening of “Cash on Delivery,” a British farce about a con man who has duped his country’s welfare system for years. To claim the most money possible, the man has invented several fictitious people who all live at his address. The authorities have caught on to him, and now the swindler must enlist people to pretend they’re the welfare recipients he fabricated. “The whole thing is a snowball of him trying to wriggle his way out of getting caught,” Width says.

Local actor Richard Koch plays con man Eric Swan in the show.

“It’s a classic British farce full of mistaken identities, slamming doors and lots of laughs,” Koch says.

Koch echoes Width about the show’s timing being critical to the audience’s suspension of belief when the action burgeons into the absurd.

“You don’t want to speed through it so [the audience] can’t understand you, but you don’t want to go slow to let them think about it,” Koch says.

Width considers Koch so skilled at British farce that he casts him every chance he gets; he even cast him in his current role when Width last staged “Cash on Delivery” in 1999.

“Richard is a real engine that drives these things, and I get him in as often as I can,” Width says. “He is really, really good at this.”

While Width and Koch may be old pros when it comes to “Cash on Delivery,” local actress Nancy Kent Collie is relatively new to the farce business.

“It’s funny and it’s fast, and it’s going to have people laughing,” says Collie of the show.

In it, Collie plays a grief counselor sent to console people after the death of one of the characters the con man invented. When she arrives, she’s surprised to find everyone in a chipper mood.

“Tom Width [is] so good, and he’s got such a vision for everything, and a really good understanding about what you need technically,” Collie says. “It looks really easy, and it looks really fast paced, but everything is really precise in order to make people laugh.”

When asked about the most challenging part of putting the show together, Collie says it’s that her colleagues are doing their jobs too well.

“Right now [the hardest part] is not laughing, because everyone is really funny,” she says. “It’s good that we’re laughing. It means that we’re doing our job.”

“Cash on Delivery” plays May 18-June 24 at Swift Creek Mill Theatre, 17401 Jefferson Davis Highway, 23834. For more information, visit swiftcreekmill.com or call 748-5203. ¦

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