(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
The play, which opens Friday at The Fly, is about Eric Swan, played by the T-G's own John Carney, who has been falsifying records for two years to get money from Social Security. It started out simply enough, when Eric lost his job and an unemployment check for his recently departed boarder arrived.
"Just this once ..." Eric cashes the check.
Two years later, and Eric is not only cashing that check, he's cashing dozens of others, for a collection of fictional boarders, their children, and their parents. He's also getting tired of it and he wants to get out.
"He decides to 'kill off' the boarders one at a time, only the government keeps sending him more money," said Wes Campbell, the director of the play, who also portrays Uncle George. "It's hilarious."
When various representatives of various social security departments show up for various reasons, Eric's one small fib spins into a maze of complications with two alleged deaths, a half-dozen or so fictional boarders, a wig and bra black market scheme, a medical epidemic, and a cross-dressing twist that even Monty Python could learn from. In fact, if you miss the first act, don't bother with the second, just catch the show again the next night.
Campbell is a relative newcomer to community theater. Unlike many, including most of his cast and crew, he didn't do high school or college plays. In fact, the first time he acted was almost by accident.
"I was selling tickets for 'A Christmas Carol' in Tullahoma," he said. "It was 1992 or '93. They came out and asked if I could be Bob Cratchit. The actor who was supposed to play him couldn't make it."
Once he "trod the boards," he was hooked. Not only did he go on to perform in many other productions, including Cash on Delivery, but he was the president of the Millennium Repertory Company in Manchester for two years. The first show he directed himself was "Everything I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten."
When Wes moved to Bedford County a few years ago, he decided to dedicate more of his time and talents to the theatrical events taking place in his new back yard. He was in the recent "Dearly Departed."
"I tell people 'Dearly Departed' was fun," said Wes. "This one is hilarious!" Working on "Cash on Delivery" has been a challenge -- but a fun one, he said, because of the cast.
"They've been a blast," he said. "They've brought an incredible amount of energy to the show and to each and every practice."
The cast and crew tend to agree. Before they start rehearsal, they can be heard offstage, chanting "One-Two-Three: Break a leg!' before the comedy erupts on the stage.
"I don't think I've ever seen a crew work as well together as this one," said Chris Stanley, who keeps things running smoothly backstage.
That kind of unity in a farce is essential, because split-second timing is just as important as the dead-on delivery of some very funny lines.
The cast includes Carney as Eric; Jennifer Templeton as his wife, Linda; David Butner as the current boarder Norman; Ryan Clanton as the first social services investigator Jenkins; Campbell as Uncle George; Dianne Clanton as Sally, another social security representative; Martin Jones, as the "relationship arbitrator" called in when Linda suspects Eric of some unusual wardrobe choices; Joe Rada as the undertaker Mr. Forbright; Sharon Kay Edwards as the formidable "Our Mizzzzz Cowper;" and Ashley Brinkley as Brenda, Norman's fiancee.
"Cash on Delivery" will play for two weekends, this Friday and Saturday and April 15 and 16. Curtain is at 7 p.m.
Tickets are: Center - $12 Side - $10 Students - Center - $ 7 Side - $ 5
For reservations, call Janice Cole at (931) 703-7613.