Loot at Park Theatre
Joe Orton’s controversial dark comedy Loot celebrates its 50th anniversary with the hilarious production directed by Michael Fentiman at Park Theatre. Featuring a brilliant cast, the show satirises the devoted Catholics and the honest policemen, while mocking the rituals and conduct of a respectable family.
The playwright skillfully puts in plain sight the real crime – as same-sex love was considered at the time – while the characters frantically try to cover up murder and robbery, making the killing even less of a serious offence than the theft.
McLeavy (Ian Redford) weeps the apparently natural death of his wife, while the nurse, Fay (Sinéad Matthews), who already has seven dead husbands, proposes to the poor man a second marriage. The lovers Hal (Sam Frenchum) and Dennis (Calvin Demba) fret to find a better hiding place for the money freshly stolen from the bank, and the coffin where Mrs McLeavy (Anah Ruddin) lies looks to be the perfect solution. Inspector Truscott (Christopher Fulford) searches for the truth, unleashing more lies and laughs.
Premiered in 1965, the two-act play won the Evening Standard Award in 1967, the same year of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. The comedy returns to the stage today when more steps forward have been made for civil rights, but discrimination and corruption are still common. Irreverent and fast paced, the performance doesn’t fail to bring alive the sharp satire uncovering hypocrisy.
Witty dialogues and perfectly staged actions, with a corpse moved from side to side like a purse, reveal a brilliant script. While the atmosphere is kept sombre with the dark clothes and the old furniture, eccentricity makes absurd and extremely funny every single moment.
The element of the dead is always present, but with the least sacraedness and seriousness the mourning should bring. Michael Fentiman keeps the comedy fresh in its sharp lines and its unholy handling of the eternal rest.
Demba and Frenchum play beautifully the amoral young couple, more clumsy in hiding the money than their relationship, in contrast with the solemn adult conduct of Matthews and Fulford. Redford delivers a brilliant performance as a most devoted and honest father.
Against the gloom of a family funeral, Loot shines in its crisp hilarity and the perfect rhythm for a comedy that doesn’t disappoint.
Photo: Darren Bell
Loot is at Park Theatre from 17th August until 24th September 2017. For further information or to book visit here.
Watch the director and the cast talking about the show here: