26th Aug2017

Loot (Theatre)

by timbaros

LOOT 7 Sinead Matthews (Fay) Ian Redford (McLeavy) Sam Frenchum (Hal) Photo by Darren BellThe late playwright Joe Orton wrote “Loot” more than 50 years ago, and it is now being revived at London’s Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.

“Loot” is a farcical comedy that’s hilarious but it’s upstaged a bit by the life of Orton. He was only 34 when, at the peak of his fame, was murdered by his boyfriend Kenneth Halliwell in their flat in Islington exactly 50 years ago because Halliwell was very jealous of Orton’s success. Orton had just had real success in the West End with both “Loot” and “Entertaining Mr. Sloane,” and was even celebrating being notorious for when him and Halliwell served 6 months in jail for defacing books from the Islington public library.

But back to “Loot.” It’s a laugh a minute play about a funeral with a corpse which unfortunately does not get any piece in the afterlife. There’s also a bank robbery as well as a cunning nurse who will do anything to get her hands on as much money as she can.

Mrs. McLeavy (Anah Ruddin) has just died and her husband McLeavy (Ian Redford) and son Hal (Sam Frenchum) are in mourning at a funeral home. Nurse Fay (Sinéam Matthews) was hired to take care of Mrs. McLeavy, but she’s got more up her sleeve than cotton pads and plasters. But Hal has just robbed a bank, in cahoots (and then some) with undertaker Dennis (Calvin Demba), and the money is in the same room as Mrs. McLeavy. But self-proclaimed water inspector Truscott (Christopher Fulford) seems to be getting very interested in everyone’s business, starts to ask lots and lots of questions, while Hal and Dennis run amok trying to figure out where to stash the stolen money – and this is the beauty of “Loot.” Poor Mrs. McLeavy’s corpse keeps on getting switched with the money and eventually her body is a prop where McLeavy and Truscott bewilderingly take no notice. And eventually Fay wants a piece of the action or else she will tell the cops. The corpse winds up in literally many hilarious places and positions which will keep you laughing for the duration of the show’s 90 plus minutes.

Kudos go to Ruddin for playing the corpse. She, along with the hilarious script, are the real stars of the show. Matthews as nurse Fay and Redford as McLeavy are also brilliant but it’s a testament to Orton who had bucketfuls of talent taken away from him at such a young age, one can only imagine what else he would’ve accomplished. And we’re lucky we are no longer at the behest of Lord Chamberlain who heavily censored this show when it was originally shown, and when some of the audiences walked out because of the way the corpse is treated in the show. And we finally get to see “Loot” the way Orton originally intended it to be watched, in full.

For tickets, please go to:
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk

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22nd Jul2017

Twilight Song (Theatre)

by timbaros

Twilight Song - Kevin Elyot - Park Theatre - 13th July 2017You know a show doesn’t make much sense, when, after seeing it, you and your friends don’t agree on what you’ve all just seen. To say “Twilight Song” is bit confusing is putting is mildly.

Now playing at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, “Twilight Song” is late British playwright Kevin Elyot’s final play. Elyot,who wrote the award winning and very successful play “My Night with Reg: (which was turned into a film in 1997), died in 2014, finishing “Twilight Song” right before he passed away. But the play itself is not a very good testament as a cap on his career – it’s a show muddled with characters and storylines that go back and forth in time that unfortunately raises more questions than answers in a play that’s a very very short 75 minutes.

Most of Elyot’s plays have direct gay themes or gay undertones (“My Night with Reg” was very similar to the groundbreaking 1969 film “Boys in the Band”), and “Twilight Song” is no exception. In a nutshell, it’s a play abut a middle aged man Basil (Paul Higgins) who lives in a North London terraced house (with an unfinished balcony) with his mother Isabella (Bryony Hannah) in the present day. Flash back to 1967 and Isabella is pregnant. But in both the present and the past (to and including a scene set in 1961), the family has secrets, secrets that they keep to themselves, and even secrets that they do not want to admit to themselves. Basil (Paul Higgins) pays an estate agent (Adam Garcia) money, not for a real estate transaction, but for sex, which happens too suddenly and out of the blue and out of character. Then Isabella unrealistically falls into the arms of the gardner (Garcia again). Meanwhile her uncle Harry (Philip Bretherton) pines for Charles (Hugh Ross), but Charles is broke because he is being swindled by a hustler (Garcia again). “Twilight Song” takes us all too rapidly through this family’s 50 year history too quickly. Throw in some cock talk, unknown origin of blood on the sofa, and a very very short running time, and it doesn’t leave us much time to get to know the characters and their motivations. Director Anthony Banks gets excellent use of his actors who all give fine performances, and a set design that’s true to it’s time (though an annoyingly loud refrigerator in their kitchen really serves no purpose and destroys the play’s tension), but it’s the storyline that doesn’t add up, and it’s shame because it is Elyot’s last work, and it’s being poorly received.

Another one of Elyot’s plays, “Coming Clean,” will have a revival at the King’s Head Theatre later this year, so perhaps hold out for that one if you can.

If you still want to buy tickets to “Twilight Song,” please go here:

https://www.parktheatre.co.uk

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