The Reviews are In

Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 by Pat Gaik

We had a great opening week, overall, though one night was a bit of a trainwreck in places. The reviews so far have been great!

Barn II troupe delivers
A Review by Patricia S. Stiller
The Pantagraph
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some things are just better shared. Like a wonderful evening filled with good food, good friends and good fun out at Conklin’s Barn II Dinner Theatre.

The masters of mayhem are at their comic best in the current, must-see offering, Michael Cooney’s “Cash on Delivery,” which features the entire resident company, headlined by Bob Lane Jr. and Pat Gaik.

Cooney’s hilarious script follows the unbelievable antics of Eric Swan, who neglected to inform his wife that he was no longer employed.

Swan, played with gusto by audience favorite Bob Lane Jr., stumbles onto a source of income when a government benefit check arrives at his home for a former lodger.

Over time, Swan creates a series of imaginary lodgers, and receives benefit checks for often ridiculous ailments, barely staying one step ahead of the agency investigators.

Finally, the inevitable happens, and it all hits the fan, forcing Swan to weave his only actual lodger Norman McDonald into the fray, with side-splitting results.

McDonald is played to the hilt by the incomparable Gaik.

The chaos is nonstop, and the fun contagious, with hilarious supporting performances by John Johnson, as Mr. Jenkins the investigator; Diann Thompson as Sally Chessington; and the lovable Tome Weber as Uncle George.

Conklin's comedy delivers
'Cash on Delivery' lets dinner theater cast do what they do best

of the Journal Star
Posted Mar 07, 2009 @ 10:35 PM

GOODFIELD — The pleasure of Conklin's Barn II Dinner Theatre lies somewhere between watching an old-fashioned vaudeville routine and an elaborate juggling act.

Performers pound the floorboards as they play characters caught up in ever-sillier and ever-more far-flung plot twists that threaten at every moment to come crashing down around the actors' heads.

In the case of "Cash on Delivery," which runs through April 26, the plot twisting begins with a con-artist premise that nicely fits these recessionary times. Laid-off Eric Swann (Bob Lane Jr.) has been ripping off the Social Security system for years by pretending to be someone he isn't and by pretending to have tenants with various ills and pensionable conditions.

When this amusing play begins, Eric is in way over his head, and he's digging himself deeper with every effort to dig himself out. His friend Norman McDonald (Pat Gaik) is ensnared in the con game despite his better judgment.

Fictitious personages multiply. Characters pop in and out of doors.

There are lots of jokes involving brassieres and women's underwear. At one point, Gaik appears in a shocking floral dress and an even-more-shocking women's wig. There's even a tug-of-war gag involving an apparent corpse, which isn't really a corpse at all.

This is the sort of show Conklin's cast members are well-accustomed at playing, and they clearly have fun with this material. Lane's Eric Swann is reminiscent of a deadpan Tom Smothers as he good-naturedly cons and improvises his way through one lame explanation after another. Gaik is a hoot, as always. Dan Challacombe aces the role of Dr. Chapman, a creepy psychologist with horn-rimmed glasses and a weird, man-on-the-moon voice. Tom Weber's Uncle George is hilarious, whether he's being hit in the head repeatedly by a swinging door or appearing in his long underwear to Eric's addled wife, Linda (the funny Miranda Axsom).

Rounding out the cast is Mary Simon as Ms. Cowper, the Social Security bureaucrat who comes to investigate the strange goings-on; John Johnson, who plays Mr. Jenkins, another Social Security agent who finds more than he bargained for when he comes calling; David Flanders as Mr. Forbright, the funeral director; Diann Thompson as Sally Chessington, the social-service worker whose very presence further tangles the plot; and April Wyant as Brenda Dixon, Norman's long-suffering and much-abused fiancee.

All the actors deliver what basically is meat-and-potatoes dinner-theater entertainment with lots of laughs - all very much in the spirit of the late Chaunce Conklin, who founded this unlikely enterprise in 1975. It's well worth a drive into the country.

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