In this play Henry Perkins finds he has picked up the wrong briefcase and, instead of his office papers and half a cheese and chutney sandwich, he discovers one million five hundred thousand pounds in used notes. (Inflation has hit the stage – the original was £735,000.) Well – it could happen to anyone, and what would anyone do? Count the notes several times in disbelief, have a few drinks to steady the nervous excitement and rush home in a slightly delirious, slightly drunken daze to tell the spouse that “we’re off to Barcelona – first class!” All right so far – I’ll believe that – especially as that amount of money in cash suggests it is already illicit gains and chances are the police won’t be informed. “But” says Henry’s wife Jean “what about Mr. Nasty who now has your briefcase? Besides I don’t want to go and we’re expecting our friends Betty and Vic for your birthday dinner”.
From here the situation becomes more and more fraught as the arrival of a policeman sends the couple into a spin and they begin the lies which escalate as one situation follows another and soon the stage is awash with friends, policemen and cab driver, constantly coming and going and all of whom are given a different story, which they try desperately to fit into some sort of sense.
The more a situation is contrived and played for laughs the less amusing it becomes, and it is almost a ‘trademark’ of British farce that people have to be discovered in comprising situations (rather overdone and held too long in my opinion) and then have to talk their way out of them – or in this case accept the mistaken conclusions.
So what happens to the money and does Henry manage to keep it? Well, it begins to fritter away in pay-offs to almost everyone, beginning with £25,000 for the first policeman Vic takes a cut before being included in the escape plan and Betty becomes over-dramatically graphic when describing a murder and is told “Jean, you’re not the Daily Mail”.
There are plenty of very funny one-liners with some topical references to bring the dialogue up to date. A pleasant evening’s entertainment, and cab driver sorts it all out in the end.