Funny Money

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Funny Money is a farce written by Ray Cooney. It premièred at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley, London, England, in 1994, followed by a successful two-year run in the West End. Cooney directed his own play and also played the part of Henry Perkins. In 2006 the play was adapted into a movie starring Chevy Chase.

Contents

Characters

  • Henry Perkins, an insignificant middle-aged middle-class accountant
  • Jean Perkins, his pretty wife
  • Vic Johnson, a friend of the Perkinses'
  • Betty Johnson, Vic's wife, also pretty
  • Bill, a London taxi driver
  • Davenport, a bent copper
  • Slater, a straight copper
  • Mr. Big aka Mr Brerfcurse
  • A passer-by

Plot summary

On his birthday, middle-aged Henry Perkins is going home to Fulham on the underground, looking forward to his birthday dinner, for which he and his wife Jean have invited their old friends, Vic and Betty Johnson. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened so far, but on the tube train he by mistake picks up a wrong suitcase without noticing it. He gets off at Fulham Broadway, wants to get out his gloves and scarf and realises that he is actually carrying someone else's briefcase. In it, he finds £735,000 in used £50 notes. He goes to a pub and counts the money several times in one of the booths of the gents. "Bent copper" Davenport—in plain clothes—watches the excited man and believes he has come to the pub to solicit men.

When Henry Perkins reaches his home, Vic and Betty are just arriving. He is planning to just grab a few things and hurry off to Barcelona with his wife and the money, leaving his old life behind. As it is Friday night, and he knows that it will take whoever has his own briefcase only till Monday morning to phone his office and get his address—and he wants to be long gone by then. He knows very well that all the money in the briefcase must be part of some criminal transaction, so from a moral point of view he has no bad conscience whatsoever.

Foreseeably, unforeseeable events intervene. While he is still explaining to his reluctant wife that they have to leave in a hurry, Davenport—whom Henry does not recognise from the pub—arrives and wants to have a talk with him. Of course Henry thinks this is about the money, and a whole series of (deliberately) mistaken identities ensues, which also includes Vic and Betty, who are introduced to Davenport as relatives of the Perkinses on their way home to Australia. Bill, the taxi driver Henry has called to drive his wife and himself to Heathrow, adds to the confusion.

At the same time, "Mr Nasty" -- the man whose briefcase Henry accidentally took on the underground—is killed by "Mr Big" -- the man he had criminal dealings with—and thrown into the Thames near Putney Bridge -- which is quite close to Fulham --, together with Henry's briefcase (which contains, among other things, a cheese and chutney sandwich). "Mr Big", a Dutchman who does not speak English, keeps phoning the Perkinses but remains monosyllabic throughout his calls ("Brerfcurse"). When Bill answers the phone, he gives the caller the exact address—not knowing what a big mistake he is making. Immediately after the call, "Mr Big" starts walking towards the Perkinses' Fulham house.

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