WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Park Theatre
WHEN: 19/8, press night 23/8 runs to 24/9
Playwright Joe Orton was murdered half a century ago and this production of one of his greatest hits Loot is the first of the comedy in its uncensored form.
- Read on for reasons including how this farce became even more so thanks to a set malfunction
What’s different is that it’s clearer in this version that central characters Hal and Dennis (Sam Frenchum and Calvin Demba), pictured above, are actually a couple, albeit not a faithful one.
Hal’s grieving because his mother has died recently and decides to use her coffin to stash the proceeds of a bank robbery he has conceived with his undertaker partner Dennis.
Sinead Matthews has the most fun as a nurse called Fay who is as keen as mustard to attend to the every need of Hal’s recently widowed father McLeavy (brought to life by the believable Ian Redford).
Almost as good as Matthews is Christopher Fulford as cartoonish detective Truscott investigating the bank job but not quite spotting everything under his nose in this ever more outlandish farce.
Things got even funnier after the interval here when one of the two doors used by the cast to exit and enter the stage became jammed – with not even a very visible stagehand able to open it.
The cast coped admirably with the mishap and none of Orton’s Wildean wit and musing on the honesty of the police and mistrust of religion was lost.
French and Demba made for a cute couple and it’s amazing in many ways just how ahead of his time Orton was, a true genius gone far too early.
This revival of Loot, in a fine uncensored version, is laugh-out-loud funny and well worth a look.