The Review - THEATRE by HOWARD HOXTON Published: 25 December 2008
Black farce offers a swag bag of comic mayhem
THE Catholic Church, police violence and corruption, the limitation of personal freedoms, a bank robbery, a nurse marrying and then killing off her patients and a gay relationship – it sounds like contemporary political satire, but this is Joe Orton’s 40-year-old cock-a-snook at respectable proprieties.
Only the lack of mobile phones and the existence of the Water Board remind us that it dates before the days of Thatcher’s
privatisations and Sean Holmes gives it the straight-faced production that all farces need to make them really funny.
EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing star Matt di Angelo plays Hal, the bisexual son who takes his mother’s embalmed body from her coffin to replace it with the haul of cash he and his undertaker love Dennis (Javone Prince) have stolen.
But Dennis, who “scatters his seed along the pavement without regard to age or sex,” is keener on Fay, the dead mother’s nurse (the hilariously rosary-toting Doon Mackichan).
She, meanwhile, has Hal’s father, Mr McCleavy, lined up as her next victim.
The play takes a little while to get into its stride but then builds the lunacy of its wild logic, as the three conspirators try to stop both McCleavy and the detective (posing as a Water Board official) from discovering the money in the coffin or that what they say is a dressmaker’s dummy is actually embalmed mama, or that what might be a marble is really the corpse’s glass eye.
This is very much an ensemble show, though every one gets their moments, such as McCleavy’s description of the accident that befalls the hearse, which James Hayes makes hilarious.
David Haig’s ever-escalating performance as Truscott of the Yard is the bedrock on which the mayhem is founded, and worth the ticket in itself.
Loot is a jolly but acerbic antidote to the sugary sentimentality of much Christmas fare. If you’ve enough of mince pies, carols and reruns of old sitcoms and movies – or even if you haven’t – get over to Kilburn and give yourself a holiday treat. Until January 31
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