Poor Harris Wellborn. As a once promising playwright, Wellborn finds himself down on his luck in the Santa Clara Players’ latest production, Harris Cashes Out.
Wellborn, played by Matt Matthews, wrote an off–Broadway musical, Passing Fancy, decades ago, but his show was a complete disaster and closed after only one performance, crushing Wellborn’s Broadway dreams. Now, with a disappointing career long in the past, the aging tunesmith is penniless and forced to move out of his home and into a run–down apartment complex run by his domineering sister, Maggie Bellows (Elizabeth Finkler).
With multiple medications to take and nothing to live for (his wife recently died), Wellborn has little more than a box of memorabilia he keeps locked in the basement. Meanwhile, Bellows, fearing for Wellborn’s well–being, asks Kim Sutton (Emma Feeny in her SCP debut), an eccentric dog walker who lives down the hall, to check in on him and make sure he’s taking care of himself. Despite initial protests, Wellborn and Sutton develop a friendship, with Wellborn eventually telling her about his trunk of collectibles.
Simple–minded Sutton tells her boyfriend, scheming Jason Sernach (Ian Douglas), about Welborn’s mementos and Sernach hatches a plan to cash in on Wellborn’s past – by selling the items on an online auction site. His only problem? Sernach is sure Wellborn will never willingly go along with the idea, but knows that selling Wellborn’s keepsakes is a definite money–maker. Sernach comes to the conclusion that the only way he can capitalize on Wellborn’s past is if Wellborn is no longer in the picture, meaning murder may just be in the cards.
Written by Londos D’Arrigo (who also wrote Spreading It Around, which the Players performed in 2013) and directed by Jon Rosen in his SCP debut, Harris Cashes Out has its ups and downs. Although not a reflection of the Players’ theatrical ability, the play’s first act is a little long and, at times, tedious, as its character development moves at a snail’s pace. But, stick with it. The second act is a pleasant surprise, with witty one–liners and chuckle–worthy moments that help keep the audience entertained and engaged.
Harris Cashes Out opened to a packed house on Feb. 27 and runs through Saturday, Mar. 21. Shows are March 6–7, 13–14 and 20–21 at 8 p.m. and March 8 and 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 and available through www.scplayers.org or by calling 408–248–7993. Run time: approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including an intermission.