Writer: Joe Orton
Setting: A room in McLeavy's house.
Loot was first performed at the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre by the London Traverse Theatre Company on 29 September 1966.
Loot is a two-act play, a farcical black comedy. The entire action of the piece is played out in the McLeavy’s living room. Mrs. McLeavy has recently died and her coffin is stood on trestles. All is not what it seems and everyone appears to be harbouring a secret or hiding his or her true identity. The bank next door to the funeral parlour has been robbed and Inspector Truscott is on the prowl looking for the stolen loot. The loot ends up hidden in Mrs. McLeavy’s coffin, whilst the corpse ends up in the wardrobe. One crime unearths another until a deal is struck for the greater good. Loot is a witty and subversive detective story, which satirises society's perspectives on religion, death and justice.
Loot is absolutely hilarious and a play which certainly has a place in modern theatre playhouses. I’m not hugely familiar with the work of Joe Orton, but reading Loot has made me want more. Orton is also known for plays such as: The Ruffian on the Stair, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, and What the Butler Saw.
In Loot, Orton brilliantly satirises the Roman Catholic Church and the social attitudes to death. The play is like a detective story seen through the mind of a psychiatric patient. Loot has some fantastic characters: Fay the scheming, money hungry, murderer; Truscott, the relentless inspector; and Hal, the affectionless son who wants nothing in life but to run a brothel.
Loot is a play, which would suit either a professional or amateur theatre company. It has six characters and a fairly substantial set is required. I would love to see a production of this in the near future, so don’t let me down.
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