REVIEW: Loot, Tricycle Theatre Kilburn

PUBLISHED: 10:33 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 07 September 2010

Five star rating Over the dead body of her patient and his wife, the coffin between them, the nurse hands in her notice to Mr McCleavy and demands to be proposed to. A few minutes further in, Mr McCleavy s criminally errant

Loot

Tricycle Theatre

Kilburn

Five star rating

Over the dead body of her patient and his wife, the coffin between them, the nurse hands in her notice to Mr McCleavy and demands to be proposed to. A few minutes further in, Mr McCleavy's criminally errant son has stashed the loot in the coffin and his mother in the wardrobe - it's only the decision to bury her naked that makes him protest.

Bandaged into decency, the corpse takes a visibly central role, affording Inspector Truscott posing as 'the man from the water board' the irresistible line, "Whose mummy is this?" Guffaws ensue. This is down to Sean Holmes' perfectly cast, skillfully directed production. Such tasteless kitchery as this is a challenge to any director let alone an audience: the original production flopped under a rain of abuse, the second won an award.

The play is a vehement attack on Catholicism and religion, the police and the law. But Orton is clever. He wraps the stuff in the perfectly formed trappings of the established theatre - pure, irresistibly watchable, commercially viable farce.

Despite its theatricality - "it's between us and these three walls" - which the design picks up with a barely visible proscenium arch and red drapes - the surrealism behind the black comedy is uncomfortably familiar.

In a star turn, David Haig's Truscott wearily intones his investigation "under an assumed voice", while sniffing out clues like a dangerous walrus doing a Groucho Marx impression.

James Hayes's final crucial lines, "You're mad...", ring for a moment with vulnerability and disbelief. It's good material for a transfer and the cast uniformly give it the balls this play demands. The challenge after all those rolling laughs will be to keep it the right side of real.

Until January 31.

Rebecca Banks


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