Review: Loot

Coppers get a kicking from Joe Orton’s wit

By John Nathan, December 18, 2008

The Tricycle London NW6

David Haig and Javone Prince in Joe Orton’s comedy, Loot

David Haig and Javone Prince in Joe Orton’s comedy, Loot

Although in Joe Orton’s 1966 comedy, Detective Truscott (David Haig) is willing to beat the hell out of anyone who gets in the way of his investigation — and for that matter, anyone who doesn’t — it is the police who get a right kicking from Orton’s wit.

It is no longer shocking to see a violent, corrupt, stupid cop on stage. But it is amazing that Sean Holmes’s precisely directed production of Orton’s subversive farce, which is so rooted in the ’60s, feels so precisely targeted at the current erosion of civil rights in this country.

“It’s for your own good that authority behaves in this alarming way,” declares Haig’s aggressive Truscott.

In his attempt to catch serial husband-killer Nurse Fay (Doon Mackichan), he stumbles into a “house of mourning” populated by the recently widowed McCleavey (James Hayes) and his cocky son Hal (Matt Di Angelo) who with his funeral director accomplice (Javone Prince) has hidden the cash from a bank robbery in the coffin once occupied by Hal’s mother, and Hal’s mother in the wardrobe once occupied by the cash. Death is deliciously disrespected and a manic Haig, probably our greatest comic actor, is on top form.

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Last updated: 11:01am, December 18 2008