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April/May 2008
'Loot' by Jo Orton

reviewed by Emily Pearce in The Isle of Wight County Press 02/05/08
(reproduced by kind permission of
the Isle of Wight County Press)

A HEALTHY suspicion of authority, a satirical poke at religious hypocrisy and the use of a corpse as a card table — all the elements of Joe Orton’s black comedy, Loot, were present and correct in this offering from the Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (CAODS).

The cast certainly had a great script with which to work. Orton’s dark farce, complete with inept bank robbers, a deranged detective and a conniving Catholic nurse, is rightly heralded as a masterpiece of British theatre.

But while the individual performances in this production were impressive, the end result did not do justice to the source material — there was a lack of energy to the piece and a lack of confidence in the delivery of Orton’s vigorous and sexy script.

However, the cast clearly put a lot of enthusiasm into their roles and there were some good performances.

Olivia Day was assured as Nurse McMahon, a duplicitous black widow with a string of marriages behind her, while Paul Gwinnett also impressed as the newly widowed McLeavey, a man whose continual bewilderment and obliviousness was convincingly depicted.

Geoff Day was excellent as the hapless bank robber, Hal, offering a very believable and emotional performance as a would-be Cockney wideboy, and his banter with his partner in crime, Dennis, played competently by Wayne Child, was one of the play’s highlights. Grant Farley also put in a good performance as the corrupt and rather stupid Inspector Truscott — a character used mercilessly by Orton to mock the integrity of the British police.

There is definitely a great play waiting to happen here, as long as the production can be sharpened up a little.

Emily Pearce