Park Theatre, London – until 24 September 2017
Marking the 50th anniversary since Joe Orton’s play premiered, Michael Fentiman’s production of Loot highlights the dark humour perfectly – helped by great performances.
A rather morbid scene is set for the audience as they enter the auditorium for Loot. The set is comprised of a coffin on a bed in all-black surroundings – it seems to be more the setting for a serious drama rather than a comedy. But it is soon made very clear that Joe Orton’s sharply witty and engaging script about two hapless criminals (whose attempts to hide a huge amount of money they stole become increasingly bizarre) is equally designed to entertain as much as it has plenty to say about morales and corruption.
Michael Fentiman’s production has plenty of energy and pace about it to keep the audience completely engaged with what is happening – even if it highlights some of the more ridiculous moments that don’t quite come across as believable, such as the hiding of Mrs McLeavy in the cupboard or stripping the corpse – despite the hilarious way in which these moments are staged.
But what the production does do extremely well is highlight the comic values of the script, with many lines being delivered with perfect comic timing by a very capable cast. Fentiman’s cast has developed great characterisations as individuals but also a great natural chemistry together – even if elements of the plot are a bit far fetched.
Christopher Fulford as Truscott provides plenty of variety in his performance, swinging from one mood to the next, keeping audiences on their toes about what his motivations are and if he really is who he say he is. Being so much involved with the action, means that his is a character that dominates much of the action and so it is a very commanding performance.
Sinead Matthews also delivers a sharp performance as Fay, who for the most part seems to be able to keep the men on their toes, proving to be a perfect foil for the other characters throughout. She also has some of the best lines in the script that she delivers with great comic timing and capture her character’s attitude.
But the stand out performance is the corpse of Mrs McLeavy played by Anah Ruddin, who is very involved with everything that happens on stage – despite not speaking a word for the entire show. She is flung around the stage, hidden in cupboards and wrapped up in a sheet throughout the performance – not allowing for much dignity, but adds to the comedy nonetheless. She more than deserves the applause at the end.
For those who like their sense of humour as dark as possible, this is the perfect piece for you. Yes, there are moments which seem too ridiculous to be true but the energy and script win the audience over in this hilarious production.
Loot continues to play at the Park Theatre until the 24th September. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/loot