Entertaining Mr Sloane (1974)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Joe Orton

Directed & Designed by James Morgan

Performances: Sun 9th – Sat 15th June 1974, Theatre


Six months elapse between Act I and Act II




"An Entertaining Mr Sloane"

Joe Orton's untimely and violent death removed a playwright with some claim to be regarded as the father of the Anything Goes theatre, a man who chewed up taboos for breakfast and spat them out as entertainment.

Such being the case, it is curious to note how oddly old-fashioned, by post-Orton standards, "Entertaining Mr Sloane" has become. So far have we assimilated his violent-erotic world that Mr Sloane, to coin a phrase, seems almost square.

That having been said, the play is still rather strong meat for devotees of traditional comedy, so please don't say I didn't warn you. The attractive Mr Sloane who takes a room in Kath's house already has one murder behind him, and is not done yet.

James Morgan, who has already produced "What the Butler Saw", must be regarded as SLTC's Orton specialist. He takes a coolly ironical look at Mr Sloane and his entertainments, and the production has great technical assurance.

Bernie Bullbrook's set, blending mauves and pinks, gives a slightly lurid off-centre look to a typical bourgeois establishment. One is instantly struck by the power of Irene Wimbourne's projection of Kath's personality. Spreading and fortyish she oozes carnal desire from her very pores in a manner to make the sex act once again seem positively obscene, a position from which one supposed it to have been rescued.

Mark Leffler's Mr Sloane, for my taste, is too suave and smiling to make the flesh creep enough, though I can clearly see the logic of the interpretation as a young man without anchor or rudder, drifting in a sea of purposeless self gratification. Whether one accepts it or not, it is beyond doubt that the actual mechanics of his craft have improved over the past few years.

Tom Swann, as old Dada, shrunk in on himself, is the epitome of mean-spiritedness, making a mountain of comic pathos out of such small routines as the toasting of crumpets that keep crumbling away under his fingers.

John Adams cunningly combines a slick moralising air with a subcutaneous vibration of animal passion as Kath's weaker brother Ed, weakly excusing every outrage committed by Sloane. His performance is an effective commentary on our human tendency to squeeze outward events, however shocking, into the mould of our own prejudices.

You are more likely to love or hate both play and production than remain indifferent to either.

Donald Madgwick, the Croydon Advertiser.


Reminiscences and Anecdotes

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