The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
March 7, 8, 9 & 10, 2001
by Joe Orton
Hugh Hemmings – McLeavy
Jo Hopper – Fay
Ben de Silva – Hal
Lee Stevens – Dennis
David Goodger – Truscott
David Bickers – Meadows
Stage Manager – David Collis
ASM – Theresa Manville
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound – Simon Snelling
Set Building – David Comber
Set Building – Brian Box
Set Building – Mike Davy
Set Building – Marc Lewis
Set Building – David Collis
Painting – Frances Thorne
Painting – Sheila Neesham
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Wardrobe – Judith Berrill
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Press & Publicity – Frances Thorne
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Programme – Bob Ryder
Front of House Manager – David Pierce
Front of House Manager – Antony Muzzall
Front of House Manager – Lucien Bouchy
Front of House Manager – Peter Harrison
Box Office – Margaret Murrell
Programme Note #1: Loot
Joe Orton’s reputation for dramatic writing has rested mainly on just three full-length plays: Entertaining Mr. Sloane , Loot , and What the Butler Saw [staged posthumously, 1969]. In their time – which was still the time of the Lord Chamberlain’s power of censorship over the theatre – these were controversial plays, because of the casual immorality of the characters and their irreverence or ‘tastelessness’ of some of the subject matter. But, with the passing of time, other more classic qualities have become clearer. Joe Orton actually stands in a long line of comedy playwrights, from Congreve and Sheridan, through Wilde and Coward, for whom the comedy is in the style rather than the substance. The situations are absurd and the characters are exaggerated, while their language and reactions are outrageously superficial. It’s a wicked combination.
Publicity #1: Loot
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 22 2001 issue – page 1
Text Header: “Dirty work afoot as pair hide the loot”
THE blackest of black farces, full of wry humour, shocks and surprises, is Wick Theatre Company’s choice for its first production of the year at the Barn Theatre, Southwick. Loot by Joe Orton tells the story of two young thieves. Dennis drives a hearse, Hal’s mother has just died.
When they rob a bank and return to Hal’s home with the loot, it isn’t hard to guess the hiding place they choose. Then Inspector Truscott arrives, hot on the trail of the two villains. The plot gets even thicker and conventional morality flies out the window.
New your director Hannah Collis has assembled an interesting cast which blends newcomers to the Barn with some well known regulars.
Dennis is played by Lee Stevens and Hal by Ben de Silva, both in their first production for Wick. Hugh Hemmings plays Hal’s father, McLeavy, while David Goodger is Insp Truscott. Another Barn regular, Joanne Hopper, is appearing as Fay, a femme fatale dangerous in more ways than one.
Loot will be performed at the Barn Theatre from Wednesday, March 7, to Saturday, March 10, at 7.45pm Contact the box office on 01273 597094.
Review #1: Loot
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: March 15 2001 issue – page 18
Reviewer: Frank Horsley
Text Header: “‘Lovely jubbly’ as Wick cash in on Orton wit”
THE halcyon year of 1966 and all that – seems like only yesterday, doesn’t it? England won the World Cup, Thunderbirds were ‘go’, the Beatles were living in a Yellow Submarine – and Joe Orton brought us Loot. Good grief, was it really 35 years ago? How time flies when you’re galloping towards a new millennium. Left smouldering in the hoof marks, Orton’s jolt-a-minute classic had almost a period feel to it as Wick Theatre Company staged it at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last week.
So much black comedy – both fictional and actual – has passed under the bridge of desensitisation since, that Orton’s [at the time] controversial shock tactics now seem to border on the quaint. His targets were obvious ones – death, sex, religion and alleged police corruption and violence. Comparatively tame though some of his dramatic devices might appear by modern-day standards, his savage wit and verbal dexterity have more than stood the test of time – and these qualities shone through in Hannah Collis’s directorial debut for Wick.
Whatever else you glean from Loot, it is that Orton would appear not to have had too high a regard for the British constabulary. David Goodger, in a memorable portrayal, was arguably too funny as the grotesque Inspector Truscott. That is if you took Truscott purely at face value and failed to acknowledge the totally repugnant human being behind the caricature. Full of nervous tics and Tourette’s syndrome-like noises, this pipe-smoking monster was Monsieur Hulot on drugs. One of his most telling assertions was that a police officer ought not dwell too long on the truth – unless he wants to spend the rest of his career pounding the beat.
Orton, who admitted to finding Catholics plain funny rather than being against them, was more kindly in his ribbing of the central Irish character McLeavy. Hugh Hemmings [McLeavy], whose stage wife had just died and was in her coffin in the front room, and Jo Hopper, as Mrs McLeavy’s man-eating nurse, Fay, kept the prompt a little busier than they might have wished on opening night. Yet this detracted hardly at all from two thoroughly engaging performances.
The young villains of the piece, McLeavy’s son Hal and his mate Dennis, who hide their bank robbery loot in the coffin, were well played by Wick newcomers Ben de Silva and Lee Stevens. They contrasted nicely, Hal the less than coruscating bright spark being led astray by wide-boy Dennis, although I’m not sure Orton ever coined the phrase ‘lovely jubbly’, which one of them uttered!
Completing the cast was David Bickers as the police officer Meadows.
Review #2: Loot
Publication Data: March 19 2001
Loot by Joe Orton is a particularly disturbing black comedy, dealing with death, greed and money. A potent combination.
The loot from a bank robbery causes problems for the roughish Hal and Dennis. As a temporary and desperate measure, they decide to stash the loot in Hal’s mother’s coffin, who is about to be buried that morning. The grieving husband, Mr McLeavy is unaware of his son’s criminal behaviour, and vulnerable to the advances of his wife’s nurse, Fay, whose next task is to see herself the next Mrs McLeavy. Inspector Truscott arrives on the scene in pursuit of the two young robbers. Their attempts to hide the loot become increasingly elaborate, and as the plot thickens all morality disappears and is replaced with a ruthless and outrageous behaviour that disturbed me for days.
Orton created a razor-sharp script, bursting with dry humour and wit. At the same time he exposes the more sinister and disturbing aspects to his characters and plot. The idea of corruption is a central theme here. Orton examines the ideas of who is corrupt, how far can someone be corrupted, and in turn who is innocent. The well crafted piece left my head spinning …
Performed by the established Wick Theatre Company in the beautiful Barn Theatre, the cast breezed through the complex dialogue, and coolly emphasised the disturbing aspects to each character. A fine performance.
Watch out for the Company’s next performance of Dandy dick in May 23-26 at the Barn Theatre. For more information pleae contact the Box Office Tel. 01273 597094.
Review #3: Loot
Publication: Wick Newsletter
Publication Data: May 2001
Reviewer: Rols Ham-Riche
Vile characters, foul language, criminal behaviour, homosexual undertones, corrupt police, ridiculous plot – all the ingredients for a near disaster. And it was. Luckily, that was the production seen at the Theatre Royal a few years ago and not the one by Wick. Orton’s farce was brought to life by Hannah Collis for her directorial debut at the Wick. On this evidence, I look forward to many future productions from her.
David Goodger as Inspector Truscott dominated the show and stole each scene he was in. However, it was evident that Hannah had kept control of the character and he seemed more human and believable that previous Truscotts. Jo Hopper was acting her socks off and was utterly believable as Fay – you could see the deviousness in her eyes! Her arguments in favour of McLeavy marrying her so soon after his wife’s death were very persuasive, even though we knew it would surely end with his premature death. A few weeks with Fay would surely be worth it! Hugh Hemmings had perhaps the most difficult part of McLeavy, as was evident in the occasional lapse of memory and accent. However, he effectively portrayed a grief-stricken man lost without his wife and could be related to as the only ‘real’ character in the play.
It was a joy to see new faces on the Wick stage and we look forward to seeing more of them, David Bickers who had little to do as Meadows but certainly made the most of it. Ben de Silva’s Hal was the ‘innocent’ of the piece and this was portrayed well. It was a shame some of the lines were lost, but with a bit of work on the delivery, he will be a valuable asset to the Wick. Lee Steven gave David a run for his money in the scene-stealing stakes. Everyone’s energy seemed to double whenever Lee was on stage. The interaction between Truscott and Dennis was a delight and the extra touches such as Dennis pocketing cash whenever he had the chance was inspired. Maybe it would have been good if Dennis had started off gentler, therefore allowing room for the character to become more manic.
Richard Porter’s set design was up to the usual high standard and congratulations must go to the workshop team for making it look so right.
Congratulations to Hannah and her cast for giving us an extremely enjoyable evening.