The next production of the Elite Theatre Company, 730 South B St. in Oxnard, and running now through July 27, will be Ray Cooney’s manic farce Funny Money, which premiered in London in 1994 and was filmed with Chevy Chase in 2006.

It is directed by John Barker and stars Frank Malle, Lorraine MacDonald, Ryff Wolf, Kimberly Peters, Derek Foster, Art Peters and Ken Jones.

On his subway ride home on his birthday, mild-mannered accountant Henry Perkins grabs the wrong briefcase when he leaves the car and finds, when he stops at a restroom and opens it, not the half-eaten cheese sandwich and assorted papers he was expecting, but something like $1 million in cash, in well-worn, non-sequential bills.

Henry is meek but by no means slow-witted. Taking a nanosecond to weigh his alternatives — 1) retrace his steps, find the owner of the briefcase and return it to him; 2) go to the nearest police station and turn the cash in or 3) beat it on home and try to convince his pretty, loving wife to leave their present humdrum life and move to Barcelona with no forwarding address — Henry chooses No. 3.

It’s Friday, and Henry figures he has until Monday until the original bearer of the case finds out where he works and calls there, learning his address. Henry races home and begins the most frantic and complicated 48 hours he has ever spent on this planet. It is not so easy to keep things secret; it is not so easy to persuade even a loved one to make a radical change of life if you refuse to tell them why.
Now, we have had quite a few stories in the past about people finding a lot of money, but the fun of it was kind of dampened by the subconscious knowledge that they were not going to be able to keep it.

Funny Money is quite careful to set things up so that finders are morally in the clear to be keepers, whether or not they are able to actually work it. This suggests that, in fiction and drama, at any rate, we have entered a new and looser moral universe, one in which there are very large gray areas.

Tickets to Funny Money are $17 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Click here or call 805.483.5118.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at