OREM — If you’re in the mood to laugh for two hours straight, Hale Center Theater Orem’s Cash on Delivery is where you need to be. The jokes were non-stop, the characters were hilarious and charming, and the energy between the actors was electric. Michel Cooney’s play has many different kinds of humor, from clever wordplay to slapstick injuries, from mistaken identity to a fight with a rogue washing machine.

Show closes February 4, 2017.

Real-life married couple Greg Hansen and Rachel Woodward Hansen play Eric and Linda Swann, two lovely British people with steady jobs and calm lives—except that while Linda is at work, Eric is at home defrauding her majesty’s government. Eric has been cashing in on the social security, unemployment, and disability checks of various imaginary people for years, and he’s making quite the pretty penny. The play opens as Eric, having realized that his scam is getting out of control, is trying to kill off his imaginary beneficiaries. An auditor arrives just to get some routine paperwork signed, which sets in motion a series of lies that snowballs out of control.  Having real couples play stage couples is always fun, they have unavoidable honest chemistry.  It’s especially exciting here because the Hansens have a little one on the way.

Norman McDonald (played by Daniel Fenton Anderson) is the unwilling accomplice to Eric’s fraud. He’s hesitant at first, and a very poor liar, but he soon get the hang of it and produces some of the very best material.  Norman is caught in his lies several times, but manages to tap dance out of trouble.  The play is scripted, of course, but Anderson’s fantastic comedic timing made many of his lines feel ad libbed, which really added to the effect.

Left to right: Daniel Fenton Anderson, Greg Hansen, and Elizabeth Goldern. Photo by Suzy Oliveira.

The supporting cast comes in and out of the story with practiced ease, bringing a little more chaos with them each time they enter.  Director Barta Lee Heiner‘s organization of the entrances and exits and the blocking were so well rehearsed that the production couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  The juxtaposition of the pandemonium of the script with the effortless ease of the production accentuated the humor.  In the center of it all is Norman and Eric, trying desperately to hold everything together.  I don’t know if these two have been in a play together before, but I hope they work together again.  They were fantastic together, an excellent comedy duo.

My one criticism would be that there were several jokes villainizing cross-dressers as deviants and homosexuals as perverts.  While that may have been funny in 1995 when the play is set, in the current climate it’s just not funny right now.  No matter what your views on those subjects are, we’re all living in the middle of a lot of conflict about such things. The laughter from the audience died down for these moments, but it picked right up again when the play moved on.

I’d go see Cash on Delivery twice more if I had the chance.  This wildly funny play is just straight up, side-splittingly, gut-wrenchingly funny.

Cash on Delivery plays nightly (except Sundays) at 7:30 PM at the Hale Center Theater (225 W. 400 N., Orem) through February 4th, with matinees at 11 AM and 4 PM on Saturdays and an extra performance at 4 PM on January 27 and February 3. Tickets are $14-24. For more information, visit www.haletheater.org.