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Loot

a British Farce
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Joe Orton

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 2308

SHOWING : August 02, 2007 - August 19, 2007

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Yeah, baby! Pull on your go-go boots and get ready for a groovy time as Georgia Shakespeare presents this side-splitting British comedy. Long hair, short skirts and lots of loot make up Joe Orton’s naughty and fiendish farce which centers around a bumbling bank robber, his recently deceased mother, and an unoccupied coffin. From the artistic team that brought Atlanta the happening smash hit What the Butler Saw, comes this swinging psychedelic summer comedy.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Sabin Epstein
McLeavy Chris Kayser
Dennis Daniel May
Truscott Allen O'Reilly
Fay Courtney Patterson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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No, Baby, No!
by green2u
Monday, August 13, 2007
1.0
I cannot BELIEVE the same director/artistic team that did GA Shake's excellent What the Butler Saw birthed this travesty called Loot. Me thinks the director decided to honor the death of Ingmar Bergman and play this realistic. The poor poor actors. It's really painful to watch them subdue themselves when they know better. This is a talented lot who have been told to play it down. And personally offensive is the down playing of the bisexual angle. It muddles the motivations of at least two of the characters. This is an obvious pandering to the PC GA Shakes crowd. If you can't be truthful with a script then DON'T DO IT.

I could not wait to leave. And that's a rarity. After the amazing Saturday night performance of Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Loot hit me like bad Mexican food. And I still have indigestion. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
"Loot" makes you poot? by line!
You and I have disagreed on other productions before, but this time I couldn’t agree with you more! I was positively shocked at how far off the mark “Loot” was. I’ve seen British farce done better by some of our local community theatres (with far less talent in their productions)! I saw the show on Saturday 8/4/07 and there was an actor chat after the show. I couldn’t bear to stay. I would love nothing more than to discuss craft with the exquisite actors that made up that cast, but I was afraid my disappointment in the production would show through in my questions. In my opinion they totally missed the point and style of the genre. They have so many wonderful resources in this production and this was the best they could do? Though I must admit the set was nice, wasn’t it?
-Rial
The OOT Files by Dedalus
Giving it the BOOT

I suppose I'm not quite ready to give "Loot" the Boot. I agree with both writers that the performance I saw was light on the Farce and heavy on "Acting." But, I think the script has enough verbal wordplay (and these folks are certainly more than competent with language) that it did provide a mildly amusing evening (I did laugh a few times). Oh, sorry, that's analysis of the source material and, apparently, I shouldn't talk about that in a review. Sorry. It won't happen again. Sorry.

"Loot" is a NEWT

Let's compare the production to a Newt -- It's a pleasant pet for a while, but totally forgettable when you're out of the room. (And, of course, being a Newt, John Cleese may see a later performance and say in his Peasant accent "It got better.")

"Loot" needs more TOOT

That being said, the '60's feel was definitely missing from the costumes, the attitudes, and the decor.

"Loot" needs more FRUIT

And, of course, Green2U may have been being a bit PC himself by not using this opportunity, but I agree -- the sexuality was underplayed.

"Loot" needs less BRUTE

Something I didn't talk about in my own review was the Police Brutality sequence. By playing it straight (so to speak) it seemed like it came in from another play. Farce is, if nothing else, about the avoidance of violence, the anticipation of violence, or the over-reaction to violence. As an example, on record, I find Monty Python's Piranha Brothers sketch hysterical -- to hear the character calmly talking about having his head nailed to the floor is funny, precisely because the actual threat is de-fanged. But, when I first saw the televised version, seeing the guy's head nailed to the floor killed the joke. In "Loot," there was an opportunity to ratchet up the farce aspect with exaggeration -- maybe have Truscott beat him with a pillow or something. In any case, this was definitely an ill-conceived sequence.

"Loot" is no COOT

Just as a rebuttal to Wendell Brock's review, I do not think this is a dated script. In fact, if you'll forgive a namby-pamby liberal political digression, with the current assaults on our constitution, the script may be more timely than ever. Sorry, there I go again with the script analysis. Pretend I didn't say that. Sorry.

It seems strange to keep writing about a production I thought was just average. It doesn't matter. After it closes, this discussion will become MOOT anyway.

Have a GOOT Day!

-- Brad

Please read Orton's own words regarding how play should be done by Splunge
excerpt from web site
http://www.amrep.org/past/loot/loot1.html ----

In production notes for the 1966 Royal Court production of Ruffian on the Stair, the playwright banned any stylization: "The play is clearly not written naturalistically, but it must be directed and acted with absolute realism. No 'stylization,' no 'camp.' No attempt in fact to match the author's extravagance of dialogue with extravagance of direction. REALISTIC PLAYING AND DIRECTING. Every one of the characters must be real. None of them is ever consciously funny" (Ears, 157). He issued a similar warning when Broadway began to prepare a production of Loot: "Unless Loot is directed and acted perfectly seriously, the play will fail. As it failed in its original touring version ... I don't want anything queer or camp or odd about the relationship between Hal and Dennis ... I won't have the Great American queen brought into it" (Ears 227 and 248).
Interesting Quote ... by Dedalus
Interesting Quote. And a good indication why some playwrights make lousy directors ....

I also believe there can be a big difference between "playing something realistically" and "playing something with a lack of urgency." In my not-so-humble opinion, draining this play of urgency and desperation is, in fact, "stylizing" it, since the characters and actions are so absurd, and, ironically, such a tactic is very unrealistic.

But, I'm sure that can (and will) be debated at length ...

Thanks for sharing this with us.

-- Brad
by Splunge
thanks - yes, agreed. Not saying I agree with Orton :)

Just wanting people to know that GA Shakes is probably pandering to dead playwrite and not to PC crowd.
On the Other Hand .... by Dedalus
... there is a very fuzzy interpretive line between "Camp" and "Realism." Perhaps the late Mr. Orton was referring to the self-conscious "schtick" and "mugging" that too often passes for comedy in bad productions. To my mind, there is a big difference between that and the sort of nervous desperate energy I look for in a farce, an energy I don't think is unrealistic at all. And, now that I've had some time to digest his comments, I believe he was right -- the situations and language are so absurd that self-conscious mugging would hurt the play (especially the political critique aspects of it). So, of course, my "comfy cushion" violence suggestion would be a bad choice.

I also wonder how much of his comment was based on that "British Reserve" attitude we 'mericans find so alien? I think we love British Farce so much because we enjoy the spectacle of that Reserve crumbling under the onslaught of absurdity and desperation. Maybe "Loot" has a conceptual self-destruct at its core -- the '60's mileau in England was, if nothing else, a rebellion against that "proper stiff upper lip" attitude -- so if the "Loot" characters have it, we don't buy the period aspects, and if they're true to the period, we don't buy the farce aspects.

Maybe, to come out average (as I thought this production did) is the best we can hope for from this particular piece.

If you'll all forgive my script analysis again :-)))

-- Brad

(BTW, the emoticon above is constructed to reflect all the chins my increasingly middle-aged physique seems to be accumulating.)
I can't believe I'm taking the bait by Okely Dokely
Brad,

I don't think anybody was complaining about the fact that you analyze the source material. You do that frequently and usually, I'm perfectly fine with it. It's when you spend so much time, energy, and passion ranting about the source material alone that you just about neglect to say anything about the production. An informative review that does not make. In your review of the Button Theater's Godspell, you really didn't do much reviewing of the production, and you appeared to be insulting a group with different beliefs than you (although you clarified what you meant in your comment later, and if you had said in your write-up of the show what you said in the comment, I would have understood that you didn't mean to do any attacking).

So anyway, script analysis is fine. Just make sure you give the production at hand at least as much air time as you're giving the script analysis, since after all, people generally read reviews on here to get information about a production.
Would You Be Offended If I Threw You Back? by Dedalus
Actually, Mark, you were quite clear in your original comments. My Snarky Comments were meant to bait Jayfoot, who in fact did complain about critiquing Source Material.

Don't you just hate it when you toss out some minnows and get a tasty bass (or tenor?) instead of the stale old boot you were fishing for?

Have a great weekend!

-- Brad
Desperation Deficit Disorder
by Dedalus
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
3.0
Don’t Atlanta directors get it? It’s not just a good idea to coat farces with desperation, it’s necessary! Otherwise … But, I’m starting in the middle.

Seven years ago, Actors Express staged Joe Orton’s “Loot” in an unfrenetic, undesperate style that I described in my notes as “missing a prime opportunity” (this was before I started sharing my notes with all of you). Four years ago, Georgia Shakespeare staged Orton’s “What the Butler Saw,” which I similarly accused of having “no urgency, no desperation.” In spite of my lukewarm response, “What the Butler Saw” went on to become one of Georgia Shakespeare’s biggest moneymakers to that date. (So much for my ego-driven cockiness!) Now, the same director, producing team, and many of the same actors are putting up “Loot,” and once again, they get everything right except the main point -- these are absurdly absurd people in dire straits who act as if it’s just another day around the house.

Let me see if I can articulate why this turns a potentially laugh-a-minute ride into an average grin-and-chuckle stroll.

What we have here are characters and situations that are absurdly eccentric. A policeman pretends he’s a Water Inspector so he can get around that pesky British Constitution. A black-widow nurse goes through husbands and money with equal ease, maintaining a veneer of Catholic respectability (“Euthanasia is a sin, so I had to resort to murder”). A mourning husband is more focused on the roses in his wife’s funeral procession than the strangely here-now-gone-later corpse. A pair of conniving Bank Robbers comes up with the most ludicrous Rube-Goldberg plots when a simple laundry bag would have done the trick. If you stop to think about any of this, the play falls apart. Removing the veneer of desperation gives us plenty of time to stop and think about it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are laughs here. The actors are charming enough we hope they “get away with it,” and there are plenty of moments for which I can praise any of the actors (Chris Kayser, Courtney Patterson, Daniel May, Joe Knezevich, Bruce Evers, and, especially Allen O’Reilly). The language is brilliantly convoluted and pun-filled and of a style that defeats even my feeble parody skills (which, admittedly, I would have attempted if I had liked the production more). The set by Rochelle Barker is brilliant (this is her second set in two weeks I’ve praised – she’s rapidly becoming my favorite designer) and the lights by Liz Lee are evocative. If the ‘60’s milieu is found only in Joe Knezevich’s hair, that’s not especially a fatal error (in spite of the Austin-Powersesque marketing Georgia Shakespeare is using), and if the British accents occasionally obscure clarity, well, it’s not the worst that could happen.

I just can’t help being reminded of the old surgeon joke about the “operation being a success, but the patient died.”

Admittedly, Joe Orton’s work is more verbal and absurdist and dark than traditional farce, and, in this case, the desperation is not sex-based (though no less guilt-based). But, there are still plenty of opportunities for madcap (and split-second) entrances and exits, still opportunities for all the characters (except Truscott who remains blithely above the fray) to dig themselves deeper and deeper into their self-dug holes, still the opportunity for us to breathlessly laugh at the goings-on without thinking too closely
about the dark characters and darker societal overtones and darkest amorality on display. These are opportunities that this production takes every opportunity to miss.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

After Note -- If any group is looking to do a traditional sex farce, I’d heartily recommend “An Absolute Turkey,” a Peter Hall translation of a classic Feydeau romp. I saw it in London over ten years ago (where it received rave reviews in spite of the opportunities presented by the title), but, as far as I know, there has been no American production. But, if you want to do it without desperation, I’d rather you passed it by.
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