Loot at the Park Theatre: First Night review by Stephen Vowles

Much has been written about Joe Orton and more will surely follow as new generations discover his work. This new production of Loot, directed with real flair and understanding of the material by Michael Fentiman, will enable this to happen. As soon as the house lights dimmed and a large and dominant cross started to glow from the back wall of the set and a coffin is revealed containing a body, the audience knew this was going to be a magical theatrical experience. Orton was out to shock and with the deleted scenes once censored by the Lord Chancellor back in, the audible gasps of excitement and joy as the played was performed were loud and showed a fantastic appreciation of this ground-breaking play. Orton continues to be controversial even now and it’s to this  fabulous ensemble cast’s credit that the wicked and very dark humour is understood – and the skill that Orton showed as a playwright respected. His comments on society at the time of 1960’s England are both profound and poetic dealing with sadism, lust, greed, love with a hint of necrophilia thrown into the mix.

This is a superb farce where timing is crucial and this cast pulls it off. Christopher Fulford as the sadistic Truscott has certainly made the role his own moving around the stage with the agility of a cat ready to pounce and capture his prey. Sinead Matthews as Nurse Fay is delicious to watch, her timing is exceptional. Ian Redford as McLeavy, the long suffering husband of the deceased, is brilliant showing a range to the delivery of Orton’s words that is exquisite. Anah Ruddin as Mrs McLeavy is a wonder to watch and her role in this is a masterclass in acting. It’s to Sam Frenchum as Hal and Calvin Demba as Dennis that praise must be stowed upon. These two young actors are extraordinary and play their respective roles with an energy that is both breathtaking and mesmerising, stunning and beautiful – stars in the making.

If Joe Orton is looking down from Heaven (or let’s face it, looking up) he will without a doubt have a mischievous grin on his face because this is a job well done. A phenomenal piece of theatre that had the audience shouting ‘Bravo!’ after ‘Bravo!’, and rightly so.

Photos: Darren Bell


Loot plays until 24th September at Park Theatre, Finsbury Park. Park Theatre box office 020 7870 6876.

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