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  • Theatre, Comedy
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  1. © Darren Bell
    © Darren Bell

    Christopher Fulford (Truscott) and Sam Frenchum (Hal)

  2. © Darren Bell
    © Darren Bell

    Sam Frenchum (Hal) Calvin Demba (Dennis)

  3. © Darren Bell
    © Darren Bell

    Christopher Fulford (Truscott) Calvin Demba (Dennis) Raphael Bar (Meadows) Ian Redford (McLeavy) Sam Frenchum (Hal) 

  4. © Darren Bell
    © Darren Bell

    Sinead Matthews (Fay) Ian Redford (McLeavy) Sam Frenchum (Hal)

  5. © Darren Bell
    © Darren Bell

    Sinead Matthews (Fay) Sam Frenchum (Hal) Ian Redford (McLeavy)


Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Orton's subversive farce still has some bite in 2017

Brilliant, tragic farceur Joe Orton’s 1965 play ‘Loot’ was a brick thrown gleefully at the crumbling edifice of imperial Britain, at the time as important as any record by The Beatles or The Stones. But 50 years on can it still hold the same power to shock?

The answer is no: the painful truths it told about human venality, self-interest and the corruption of our instistutions are now substantially imparted by any episode of ‘Love Island’. And Michael Fentiman’s fiftieth anniversary revival doesn’t exactly go out of its way to reinvent the play – it’s a solidly ’60s affair, all wheeler-dealer cockney accents and spivvy outfits.

But if ‘Loot’ no longer feels revolutionary it does feel like a solid comedy. Following a family notionally in mourning over the loss of matriarch Mrs McLeavy, it swiftly morphs into a convoluted crime caper in which the brutally unsentimental clan attempt to stow the proceeds of a recent bank robbery in her coffin. But their schemes are disrupted by the arrival of the menacing Truscott (Christopher Fulford), who asks a lot of very awkward questions while swearing blind that he works for the Water Board.

Orton’s frenziedly farcical attacks on everything from respect for the dead to the respectability of the police don’t feel especially transgressive now. But they certainly don’t feel timid, and while the first half of ‘Loot’ feels creaky, there are some legitimately big laughs in the second.

The Park can be a slightly variable theatre, quality-wise, but the presence of the always-reliable Sinéad Matthews as Mrs McLeavey’s scheming nurse Fay is a reassuring sign. She infuses the part with a throaty gaucheness and blithe self-interest – Orton’s characters can be thin, vicious parodies in service to the greater whole, but Matthews makes Fay gloriously weird and watchable. Also a big shout-out to Anah Ruddin, who gamely spends the entire show playing the corpse.

Like a lot of things from the ’60s, ‘Loot’ probably made more sense if you were there. But this modest revival makes a solid case for its preservation on more than just historical grounds.

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski


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