NEW YORK—No social institutions are safe from Joe Orton’s withering pen in his play Loot. Not for the prudish or faint of heart, the play is, however, very, very funny.
It’s a busy day in the London home of the McLeavy family. This day the family is short by one member, as wife and mother Mrs. McLeavy has recently died. Her coffin takes the place of honor center stage (through the good graces of set designer Narelle Sissons).
The overly solicitous and too-attractive-for-a-nurse Fay (Rebecca Brooksher) is hinting to the man of the house (Jarlath Conroy) that he remarry—and soon.
She observes that a fortnight would mark a suitable period of mourning. She herself is available and would make an eminently suitable mate, as she has had seven marriages. Sadly, all her husbands have died.
McLeavy’s son, Hal (Nick Westrate), in league with his buddy Dennis (Ryan Garbayo), seeks to hide a large sum of money in the armoire. The “loot” is the result of the two young men tunneling through the wall of the funeral home (where Dennis works) to the bank next door.
All might have proceeded smoothly, except that a sleuth, both sharp and flat, one might say, is on to them—or on to something.
The pompous figure of Truscott (Rocco Sisto) claims to be an inspector from the Water Board, although he is obviously a police person of some sort, making copious notes in a small notebook.
Truscott’s presence brings about a clamor of activity, as the two thieves endeavor to hide the money. They transport the body of Hal’s mother into the closet and place the money in the coffin. Finally, the money ends up just where the two young scamps don’t want it.
In the course of things, the Catholic Church, the judicial system, and other institutions come in for a trouncing. A glass eye somehow enters the picture and goes bouncing about.
Eric Martin Brown performs the small role of a police officer.
Performances, under the direction of Jesse Berger, founding artistic director of Red Bull Theater, are good. I am puzzled, however, by the extreme style of Rocco Sisto, who in my opinion goes overboard as a farceur.
Less might have been more. I would have preferred a more realistic style all around.
In any case, Loot, being both silly as well as serious, does make for a fun evening in the theater. It is by a playwright who tragically left the world at the young age of 34, and who would have undoubtedly contributed more to the theater.
Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street
Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Closes: Feb. 9
Tickets: 212-352-3101 or visit RedBullTheater.com
Diana Barth writes and publishes New Millennium, an arts publication. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org.