Friday, 30 May 2014

Entertaining Mr Sloane

Perth Concert Hall
Three stars
On the surface, barely anything is made explicit in Joe Orton's dark
1960s comedy of psycho-sexual menace. Every panting innuendo between
Sloane's amoral cuckoo in the nest and the middle-aged brother and
sister he flits coldly between, however, promises to spill over from
Sunday tabloid mundanity into something bigger with every utterance.

Now half a century old, Orton's first full-length play teased the Lord
Chamberlain, then in charge of what could and couldn't be said onstage,
with a taboo-busting mix of contemporary pop buzzwords and stylised
baroque. This ages well in London Classic Theatre's touring revival,
which arrived at Perth Festival for a one-night stand on Monday night,
setting out its store on a jumble of upside-down brass bed-posts and
awkwardly angled wardrobes hiding a multitude of sins.

Into this mess steps Paul Dandys' sexually ambivalent Sloane, a
psycho-pathic piece of rough trade who manages to wrap both his
landlady Kath and her gangster brother Ed around his undoubtedly smooth
little finger. As Sloane becomes both play-thing and parasite, only Ed
and Kath's father, Kemp, can see the manipulative malevolence behind
the good looks.

Michael Cabot's production captures the full sense of of post-war
repression and shabbily absurd aspirationalism that courses through the
play. Every grotesque nuance is wrung from the script by Sandys, with
Jonathan Ashley's Ed, Pauline Whitaker's Kath and Nicholas Gasson's
Kemp all larger than life enough to have stepped out of the sort of
post-modern sit-com which Orton's small canon in part set the template
for. Audiences can see for themselves when the production stops off in
Kirkcaldy tonight and tomorrow before finishing with a dirty weekend in
Musselburgh.

The Herald, May 28th 2014


ends


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