There’s no such thing as a free lunch – something the characters in Roger Hall’s newest play will find out when they take to The Court Theatre’s mainstage this March for the world debut of Easy Money.
Adapted from the 17th Century play The Alchemist, Easy Money is a hilarious romp which follows two Australian con artists, Trudi & Stephen Sharp, as they try to fool their prestigious Auckland neighbours into giving them enough money to pay off their debts and hightail it to Ecuador.
A rich merchant leaves his home to avoid the plague in The Alchemist, setting the scene for his servant to use the house as a base to defraud as many people as possible. The scammers peddle ‘the elixir of eternal life’ and the idea that they can turn base metal into gold.
In Easy Money, the sell is much more corporal. Trudi & Stephen attempt to trade shares in the Auckland Harbour Bridge, telling their wealthy neighbours they have insider knowledge of a congestion toll that will send shares skyrocketing… If, in fact, there are any shares to sell.
Ross Gumbley, the director for Easy Money and Artistic Director at The Court couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. After a two-year process of working with Hall as he developed the script, Gumbley wasn’t going to let anybody else take the directorial reins: “Frankly, I wouldn’t let anybody else direct this play.”
A laugh-a-minute satire about greed, Easy Money is a plot driven farce that Hall describes as having, “no moral, no message – just entertainment.”
Finding a quick and funny cast was essential for staging Easy Money. With the wealth of experience brought by Roy Snow, Luanne Gordon, Lynda Milligan, Bruce Phillips, Geoffrey Heath, Jared Corbin, Gregory Cooper, Susannah Kenton, Melinda Joe and Albany Peseta, Gumbley has unquestionably assembled a dream cast. “I’ve got a cast who are wonderful actors and packed with funny bones. They’re amazing and it’s such a joy to be spending my days in the rehearsal room with them.”
As Gumbley describes it: “The characters in this play look like they’ve stepped out of The Real Housewives of Auckland – more bling than common sense.” Supporting that sense of opulence is set designer Harold Moot, costume designer Deborah Moor, sound designer Matt Short and lighting designer Giles Tanner, who have created a lavish playground for the Easy Money’s wealthy – and aspiringly wealthy – characters.
Gumbley isn’t worried about the relevancy of a production based off a 17th Century script. “We’re all susceptible to greed. That’s what the play’s about and what’s extraordinary about that, is that the idea hasn’t changed in 400 years.”
Easy Money opens at The Court on 17th March and runs through until 14th April.
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