Thursday 19th July to Saturday 21st July and Monday 23rd July to Saturday 28th July 1990
Directed by Vincent Adams
An embalmed corpse in the cupboard and £100,000 in the coffin: a puzzle that could only be explained by an arresting officer attached to the Water Board! Against such a backdrop Orton exposes the lunacy of accepted society in his satirical portrayal of "everyday life".
The play is an extremely dark farce which satirises the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death, and the integrity of the police force and was Orton's third major production. 'Loot' follows the fortunes of two young thieves, Hal and Dennis. Together they rob the bank next to the funeral parlour where Dennis works and return to Hal's home to hide the money. Hal's mother has just died and the money is hidden in her coffin while her body keeps on appearing around the house. Upon the arrival of Inspector Truscott the plot turns topsy turvy as Hal and Dennis try to keep him off their trail.
The first run, starring a miscast Kenneth Williams as Truscott, gained terrible reviews and flopped at the box office. However, after substantial rewrites it gathered momentum, awards and notoriety when it was revived the following year. The play has since gained a reputation as a comic masterpiece and has had many revivals - some notable for all the wrong reasons. In 1984 Paul McGann accidentally dropped the corpse into the stalls on the opening night at the Ambassadors Theatre and Leonard Rossiter, an acclaimed Truscott, died suddenly of heart disease in his dressing room after it had transferred to the Lyric.
Described as a "tour de force of bad taste and high farce", 'Loot' is considered as irreverent, amoral and bizarre. Orton thought even more highly of it: "I have a lot of vices but false modesty is not one of them. And the best thing about Loot is the quality of the writing." Tampering with the conventions of popular farce, Orton creates a hectic world and examines English attitudes and perceptions in the mid twentieth century.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. It was the second time Bench Theatre had staged this particular play, the first time being in 1979 at Havant Arts Centre.
|Mrs McLeavy||Steve Newcombe|
|Stage Manager||Andrew Caple|
|Lighting Design||Rob Thrush|
|Lighting Operation||Grant Best|
|Set and Poster Design||David Penrose|
|Set Construction||David Hemsley-Brown|
|Front of House||Janet Swales, Daniel Shires|
Far from being an overnight success, 'Loot' underwent many revisions, leaving in its wake a depressed and hysterical cast as well as many outraged audiences. with a fresh cast and director it eventually made a successful debut in London in 1966. The result of the revision is a lively script full of epigrams, one-liners and reversals of received common sense that barely has time to catch up with itself.
Orton's play is both parody of and a departure from the contemporary West End conventions and the stylized nature of the traditional farce. His style rejects the artificialities of a comedy-of-manners approach and embraces a potent and pithy form of black comedy breaching, in the case of 'Loot', the tabooed subjects of death and respect for the police. This assault on common sensibilities is the base from which Orton pounces on popular clichés and the banal preoccupations of daily life, thus exposing the lunacy inherent in accepted truths.
The difficult aspect of Orton's work is the struggle between realism and style. Orton wished his material to be played in a realistic manner, but his dialogue is so obviously a script; one which is afforded an exhibitionistic flavour by its epigrammatic nature. This provides a problem for the players because they must deliver comically precise dialogue through a realistically motivated character. As with most things it is a question of compromise, of balancing realism against Orton's stylistic idiosyncrasies.
The characters of 'Loot' are two criminals, one murderess, one corrupt policeman and one law abiding citizen. It is of course the latter who ends up as the victim of the piece, as his foolish faith in authority exposes him to the capricious actions of Inspector Truscott. In the world of 'Loot' the veneer of efficient authority and religious morality is stripped away to reveal that crime certainly does pay.
"I suppose I'm a believer in Original Sin. People are profoundly bad, but irresistibly funny."