Simple and effective would be the two words I feel encapsulate this production of Loot by Joe Orton. This brilliant play was strewn with hilarious one-liners and physical comedy which only thinly veiled Orton’s social commentary on law enforcement and the sometimes disturbing aspects of human nature. It was interesting to note that just one character was seen at the conclusion to have upheld what may be considered acceptable moral standards.
The play is described as “a dark farce that satirises the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death, and the integrity of the police force." Orton was well known for his black comedies, but before his life was tragically cut short at age 34 in a dramatic murder/suicide, he only had the opportunity to write three full length plays, the most famous perhaps being What the Butler Saw which debuted in the West End after his death.
In Loot, the dead matriarch lies waiting to be buried, her grieving husband (Kym Bidstrup) and wayward son (Nick Candy) are caught up in bank robbery, seduction, corruption, coercion, body smuggling and random dog attacks! A mass murdering nurse/serial widow (Angelique Malcolm) and a suave young funeral director of ambiguous sexual intention (Stacy Gougoulis) are added to the mix and you have a recipe for hysteria.
The first act, while still engaging and funny, lays down the narrative foundations and set the scene for the second act, which is a laugh a minute. The twists and turns of allegiance between the characters may keep audiences on their toes as the dialogue is witty and fast paced. Combined with that, is the variety of accents used so the ear/brain connection needs to be switched on to get the most out of the humour.
The Studio at Subiaco Arts Centre was bedecked with the basic furnishing required to simulate one room. There were no set changes to detract from the pace or distract us from the constant engagement in the action. The staging and direction was indicative of Stephen Lee’s many years of experience as both a director and performer.
The cast was made up of seasoned veterans of the craft and some relatively new talent. But in all cases, their training and skill was evident in their comic timing and natural delivery. Ian Toyne in particular made the most of his double dealing character and his convoluted dialogue giving a riveting performance.
Full credit must also go to Shirley Van Sanden who has given Perth audiences an array of smashing performances in the past, but I wonder if she would agree that this deceptively simple part required more physical discipline than has ever been asked of her before.
Class Act Theatre presents
by Joe Orton
Directed by Stephen Lee
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre Studio | 180 Hamersley Rd, Subiaco
Dates/Times: Tues - Sat @ 7.30pm, June 4 - 19, 2010
Matinee: 2pm Sat 19 June
Tickets: $29 full, $24 concession
Bookings: BOCS 9484 1133