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Loot (Hull)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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In Joe Orton’s Loot at Hull Truck, Foxton’s nostalgic and authentically detailed set transports us back in time to the mid 1960s, as the audible murmurs of recognition from the audience at the sight of those familiar floral furnishings and domestic embellishments, suggests. The set immediately hints at what has been, and what might be yet to come; the various spiritual paraphernalia emphasise one of the play's major themes.

We are drawn straight into the action of this dark comedy on the day of Mrs McLeavy’s funeral. Hal McLeavy and his inseparable friend, Dennis, have embarked on a bank robbery to finance a life of leisure overseas. Now they need to find a place to hide their stash. Where better but the coffin of Hal’s recently deceased mother - but how will Hal and Dennis conceal the corpse? Meanwhile gold-digging Nurse Fay sets about coercing bereaved Mr McLeavy out of his estate until the arrival of Inspector Truscott threatens to uncover all kinds of truths and drives the story to its comic climax.

Gareth Tudor Price’s treatment of the play maximises on the conventions of farce: capitalising on the fast-paced plot, there are moments of satisfying directorial flair as the corpse, coffin and cash are transported in and out and all around the versatile set. Particularly noteworthy is an exceptionally well-executed scene of police brutality, eliciting gasps from the audience.

The solid cast ably embodies the characters while simultaneously sending them up: Chris Connel’s skilful performance as Inspector Truscott is pleasingly influenced by a gamut of stage and screen detectives, Tom Hudson’s Hal charismatically maintains a witty repartee and Gary Lilburn infuses pathos as hapless Mr McLeavy. Linzi Matthew’s performance as Nurse Fay is strong and unfaltering, but a little more definition between the two contradictory facets of her character would have pushed the comic potential even further.

Hull Truck proves that Joe Orton’s trademark outrageous humour with its a satirical slant on religion, the police force and disaffected youth, is as entertaining now as it ever has been in its forty five year history.

- Joanne Hartley


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