This review contains potential spoilers. There is an open coffin on the stage. I have a thing about bodies in boxes and its freaking me out a little bit - that's no dummy body. Fortunately once the play starts, its pace is such that it works as a distraction until there is something else that makes me squirm in my seat - but I'll come onto that.
Joe Orton's dark farce takes place on the day of Mrs McLeavy's funeral. Her nurse, Mrs McMahon (Sinead Matthews), is a devout Catholic but her motives are more financial. Hal McLeavy (Sam Frenchum) and his friend Dennis (Calvin Demba) also have their own motives for being interested in the funeral - the bank next door to the funeral parlour (where Dennis works) has been robbed. Throw in a straight-laced and gullible widower (Ian Redford) and a suspicious but unscrupulous copper (Christopher Fulford) and you've got a play of scheming, manipulation, dodging and evasion.
There is great farcical comedy here as a game of cat and mouse ensues with Mr McLeavy a pawn in the middle. It is brilliantly executed but for the fact that Mrs McLeavy's body does come in for quite a bit of manhandling which is where the seat squirming comes in. It's a personal thing and I'm sure doesn't bother everyone in the same way, but I find it hard laughing when an old lady's body (remember this isn't a dummy) is being stripped and then stuffed unceremoniously into a cupboard. Full marks to Anah Rudin who plays the corpse though (she got a cheer at the curtain call).
In a similar vein, Mrs McMahon shields her true face behind a veil of religious respectability - she is superbly played by Sinead Matthew's, so quick and smart she's almost admirable.
There is plenty to enjoy and think about in Loot and lots of laughs, corpse man-handling aside, I'm giving it five stars. Catch it at the Park Theatre until September 24. It's two hours including an interval.