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Rating: Yaël Farber’s characteristically earthy, sensual, powerfully atmospheric revival of David Harrower’s 1995 play is one of those that has one peering into the gloom, at the huge, dark millstone at the back of the stage, in the way one looks at a painting by Caravaggio, searching for meaning. This is a man with a pen, with a bookcase filled with books.It’s as strange, violent and arresting as its title. On the earth floor, ploughman Pony William (Christian Cooke) and his wife have passionless sex, with Tim Lutkin’s lighting igniting their naked flesh. To begin with, the Young Woman thinks writing is ‘tricks’ and his pen an ‘evil stick’ that has put a curse on her and her ploughman.
Michael Fentiman’s splendidly pacy production does its utmost to startle afresh, snatching every possible opportunity for Hal and undertaker Dennis, his friend and partner-in-crime, to have a bit of a snog, which, at one moment, they do while simultaneously stroking the breasts of Sinéad Matthews’s uproariously up-for-it serial murderess, Fay, the seven-times married, devoutly Catholic nurse.
Revised and remounted in 1966, but still without its references to homosexuality, Jesus and all things judged smutty and corrupting of decent people (the embalmed corpse of Mrs Mc Leavy had to be ‘played’ by a dummy because at one point she is stripped naked), it became the West End comedy hit of the year.
Now, 50 years after Orton was bludgeoned to death by Kenneth Halliwell (his murderously miserable, unsuccessful companion of 16 years who had nurtured his writing skills and ambitions and even come up with the title for Loot), the play is being staged as Orton intended it.
How the parent responds in these instances has a major impact on the child’s developing personality (personality being defined as the way one characteristically perceives threats, thinks, feels, and behaves).
The parents of children who become avoidant or dismissing of intimacy tend to reject the children’s neediness or perceived weaknesses.
Rating: Joe Orton’s farce, Loot, has had an appropriately hilarious dramatic history.