ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE
by Joe Orton.
Curve (Studio) Rutland Street LE1 1SB To 24 November 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 14 Nov.
Audio-described 24 Nov 2.30pm (+Touch Tour 1pm).
Captioned 17 Nov 7.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 21 Nov.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0116 242 3595.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 November.
Ortonesque homecoming with unexpected result.
With this revival, Entertaining Mr Sloane notches-up a lifespan almost half as long again as its author. John Orton was born in Leicester in 1933 and, as Joe Orton, was murdered by his long-term partner in 1967. He lived and died in time to be emblematic of the 1960s as popularly imagined, and reflected in Arnim Friess’s montages of the decade’s confident vivacity.
Yet, intentionally or not, another tale’s suggested. Among the pictures there’s a beamingly self-assured Jimmy Saville, whose recent reputation somehow resonates with the drab living-room where young Mr Sloane has suddenly appeared, fascinating the older Kath and her brother Ed.
Far from the demolition of religion and traditional prurience Orton went on the create in the farcical Loot, and the wider philosophical farce of What the Butler Saw, here it’s Sloane who, despite his insolent insouciance, ends up prisoner of the older folks’ suburban libidos.
Only the oldest generation, John Griffiths’ possibly deliberate caricature of an angry old pill-reliant, walking-stick mobile dad, stays outside this charmed circle, being finally treated by the author’s title character pretty much as Orton was to end-up himself.
There are some brightly coloured panels on the dark sofa, as if something’s trying to break through what’s still a 1950s provincialism. And though Julia Hills’ Kath is hardly the ghastly, over-fleshed creature the script suggests, and the last person in the street likely to become sexually frustrated, she has a simplicity of mind that links her to landlady Meg in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party.
Just as her head popping through a serving-hatch recalls that play, so moments seem to look ahead to Pinter’s The Homecoming. It’s a reminder there’s threat lurking not far below Sloane’s swagger. Alex Felton finds this, with the cunning to know when he has to go along with others, especially Andrew Dunn’s brisk businessman Ed.
And for all the leather Sloane wears as Ed’s chauffeur, the moment Kemp peers voyeuristically into the room as he and Kath have sex on the carpet reveals an omni-sexual ferocity within suburban walls, if not quite a weasel under the cocktail cabinet.
Kath: Julia Hills.
Sloane: Alex Felton.
Kemp: John Griffiths.
Ed: Andrew Dunn.
Director: Paul Kerryson.
Designer: Paul Moore.
Lighting: Mark Howland.
Video: Arnim Friess.
Costume: Siobhan Boyd.0
Fight director: Bret Yount.