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Review: I’d Rather Be Rich 

Tyler Gillespie finds hits and misses in the new show at Anthony Bean Community Theater

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Les finds a backpack full of money at the car wash he runs. One of his dilemmas — and he encounters many — is whether he should keep the cash or report it to the police. While he's trying to decide, he receives a cryptic letter about an inheritance. Money makes everything complicated, and Les learns this in Anthony Bean Community Theater's comedy I'd Rather be Rich.

  Les (Dwight E. Clay) brings the money-filled backpack to his girlfriend Charity (Leah Rouege). He dreams of investing it in his car wash, but Charity thinks of more immediate uses: buying cars and vacations. The two don't have much time to discuss their plans before Charity's bubbly friend Eva (Squeak Lindsey) arrives as a house guest, and Les is unkind to her. Soon, Les's friend Frank (Darrell Tobias), who lost his veterinarian's license for an inappropriate act with a poodle, visits as well. All four people believe they have a stake in the money, and their relationships change.

  The windfall-discovery storyline is overshadowed by the prospect of Les' inheritance. Before Les makes a decision about the money, he receives a letter saying his wealthy British Aunt Emily, has died and he's about to "get rich." This message doesn't mean what he originally assumes it does, and soon Nurse Penny (Kelishia King) arrives from England pushing the comatose-looking Rich (TJ Toups), Emily's former lover. King's second-act diatribe about Rich is a standout moment.

  The comedy is full of jokes, but narrative holes become distracting. In the first act, Charity plans to leave Les to run off with Eva, her friend-turned-lover. But one of the stipulations of Les getting his inheritance from Emily is that he be married, so Charity resolves to stay with him. Les mysteriously decides it would be easier to marry Eva, whom he's insulted through much of the play. Charity writes off Eva as "nothing but a good time," but repeatedly and graphicly expresses sexual interest in her. Eva is usually the butt of the jokes — she's very flirtatious, dim-witted and gassy — but she also is a likable character because Lindsey plays her sincerely. As with the show's other characters, Les and Charity often contradict themselves, and the storyline gets convoluted before arriving at an unsatisfying conclusion.

  We don't get to know the characters well or understand why they make certain choices. Motives switch so often it's difficult to know what's at stake.

  Fred Roberts Jr. wrote the drama and the setup has potential, but the piece falls flat. People often do funny things when fighting over money, but this show doesn't make that premise pay off.


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