“LOOT” A Satire on Human Behavior
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
When Mark Lamos, the Artistic Director of Westport Country Playhouse selected Joe Orton’s “Loot” and wrote his program notes for this season’s presentation, the Travon Martin case had not exploded into a major issue. He probably didn’t realize that current events would soon focus on our own society. The observation that laws, initially designed to protect society, are sometimes inappropriate, and that the enforcers of these laws may also be inept, happen to parallel this comedy of bad manners by English playwright, Joe Orton.
Ironically, Lamos also didn’t realize that when he noted in the playbill: “...comedy is grounded in pain, fear, and sadness -- when we laugh, we generally laugh at the misfortunes of others” -- that his comments would unexpectedly backfire when technical difficulties interrupted the first act on Opening Night. Naturally, the audience laughed and applauded as this fellow ran up and down the aisle 3x apologizing for repeated house black outs -- and again, when the stage lights went on and a technician walked in and began checking the props. In any case, these unfortunate incidents set the audience’s mood for this evening’s farce and may have been as amusing as the play.
British humor is sometimes as difficult to get used to as the British accent. It may take a little time to figure out what’s considered funny and begin to appreciate the cleverness of the lines. If you are familiar with the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, it’s easier to recognize the silly poking at English society -- particularly at how the most inappropriate people often rise to power.
So in “Loot,” which takes place in the 1960’s, we begin with a corpse in a coffin, elderly, rich widower McLeavy, played convincingly by John Horton, and a much younger, conniving nurse, “Fey” -- portrayed by a seductive, Liv Rooth. Despite the age difference, Fey takes over the widower’s household and plans to marry her charge before the wife is even buried. She soon discovers that Mcleavy’s son, “Hal” (Devin Norik) and his friend Meadows (Wm. Peden) robbed the bank next to the funeral home and that the pair needs to hide the money quickly. With an eye on the bigger “loot,” Fey’s marriage motives suddenly change as she immediately helps the robbers. When “Truscott” (David Manis) a bungling detective who holds ridiculous notions of moral ethics and the law, appears, the result is a Monty Python-like effort to hide the corpse, the money and often both at the same time.
One of the play’s clever lines concerns a death certificate. When this document is finally offered up, Truscott changes his mind and waves it brusquely away. “Why give the police extra paperwork to file...they don’t read this stuff anyway,” he quips. This sounds familiar to thousands of U.S. veterans waiting for the VA to accurately process their disability claims.
Director, David Kennedy, keeps the actors moving frantically. An interesting, interior scene by Andrew Boyce is set at an angle and reflects the play’s unsettling satire.
Plays to August 3
Tickets: 203 227-4177