Monday, July 22, 2013

Quick Hit Theater Review: Loot -- Westport Country Playhouse

Liv Rooth, Zach Wegner, and Devin Norik. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Loot
By Joe Orton
Directed by David Kennedy
Westport Country Playhouse

What's It All About?
A 1960s-era British farce written by Joe Orton (What the Butler Saw), it tells the tale of two thieves trying to secret the cash they took in a bank heist amidst a death in the family and a visit from a detective. Hal (Delvin Norik) isn't really all that sad that his mother has passed on or that her nurse, Fay (Liv Rooth), herself a widow with a string of seven dead husbands, is trying to convince his father, McLeavy (John Horton) that she should be the next mistress of the house.

She catches on to Hal's relationship with the undertaker's assistant, Dennis (Zach Wegner). Besides apparently being lovers, the two think it is fun to impregnate as many girls as possible and Hal plans to use his share of the loot to open a brothel. When they realize they can't avoid Fay, they cut her in on the deal and attempt to hide the stolen cash in mum's casket. Trusty detective Truscott (David Manis) arrives on the scene and smells murder, however, even if he can't see the corpse right under his nose. William Peden rounds out the cast as Truscott's assistant, Meadows.

In the midst of the dialogue are a lot of double entendre and digs at the Catholic church and government. Some jazzy new music is composed by Sound Designer Fitz Patton to introduce the piece and wrap it up.

What are the Highlights?
Liv Rooth. She lights up the stage whenever she is on it. The actors all try their best with some pretty inane material. Some of the commentary about government interference in personal lives and the Catholic Church is surprisingly contemporary in the light of recent headlines.

What are the Lowlights?
Too numerous to list here. This work simply doesn't come together. It's not believable, which might be OK in comedy, but unfortunately it's also not very funny. Director David Kennedy's pace seems slow -- certainly not the madcap speed we expect from a comedy. Hal apparently is inflicted with an inability to lie, so when Fay asks him whether he robbed the bank he says yes, then clamps a hand over his mouth. Another character says, "Policemen, like red squirrels, must be protected." If you're rolling on the floor right now after reading that, I apologize, because I must have missed the funny part. I usually enjoy a good British farce, but this one just wasn't my cup of tea.

More information:
Loot runs through Aug. 3 at Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport.. Performances: Tickets start at $30: 203- 227-4177. www.westportplayhouse.org. Tuesday at 8 pm, Wednesday at 2 and 8pm., Thursday and Friday at 8pm., Saturday at 3 and 8pm. and Sunday at 3 pm. Special series feature Taste of Tuesday, Previews, LGBT Night OUT, Opening Night, Sunday Symposium, Open Captions, Literary Salon, Thursday TalkBack, Together at the Table Family Dinner, Playhouse Young Professionals, and Backstage Pass.

Note: On opening night, when I attended, a glitch in the lighting system caused a hold in the show while  the crew attempted to reboot the system which apparently was suck in one fairly dark lighting cue. When the glitch was fixed, the actors went back and started the show again from the top.
-- Lauren Yarger

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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