Loot | Sydney Theatre CompanyLeft – Josh McConville, Caroline Craig and Robin Goldsworthy. Cover – Darren Gilshenan. Photos – Heidrun Löhr

is a classic farce, burnished warmly by history’s hand. But this production doesn’t spark in the way it might and the reasons are unclear. The actors are fabulous – any cast with Caroline Craig and William Zappa has a certain magnificence – director Richard Cottrell has pedigree of the Goons calibre, the costume and set design is lush.

The problem seems to lie in timing. The fact is, this script feels stale or at least so toweringly overshadowed by recent events in London (you reckon the ‘60’s was swinging, you should see the 2011 riots, Joe) as to be rendered almost pastoral. Even the middle aged audience, who hummed along to the foyer music, The Beatles mostly, were largely unaffected.

Orton’s “scandalous” events of 1966 are by comparison to the recent mayhem wholly anaemic and only minutely compelling. There is nothing in this production that emotionally draws the audience in, but ironically this is by design.

None of Orton’s characters are likeable; a deliberate ploy on his part to illustrate the ‘shocking’ new paradigm of corruption, religious and sexual hypocrisy. But more might have been made of the very camp elements buried in the script. It seems the production was born and birthed without any sense of contemporary context. A couple more references to modern sensibilities would have lifted the irony to something more universal.

As it stands, it’s like watching The Mousetrap or re-runs of Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em; cosy but disappointingly not at all provocative, failing to re-capture the cheeky anarchism that it unleashed during it’s original run.

Sydney Theatre Company presents
by Joe Orton

Director Richard Cottrell

Venue: Drama Theatre Sydney Opera House
Dates: 12 Sept – 23 Oct, 2011
Tickets: $35 – $90
Bookings: www.sydneytheatre.com.au

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