Entertaining `mr Sloane (tour – Chelmsford)

Joe Orton’s breakthrough play of 1964 has been revived for this new London Classic Theatre tour.

It would be good to be able to say that Michael Cabot's production, with its an eye-riveting, asymmetrical and slightly surreal set by Simon Kenny, brings fresh life to Entertaining Mr Sloane. Regrettably, it doesn't.

Jonathan Ashley & Paul Sandys
Jonathan Ashley & Paul Sandys
© Sheila Burnett

The first act plods along far too slowly. Only the eruption onto the scene of Jonathan Ashley's Ed really brings it all to something approaching theatrical life.

Both Pauline Whitaker as Kath and Nicholas Gasson as Kath and Ed's doddery old father Kemp give good performances, but throughout the act there's a sense of too much being held in check.

Paul Sandys looks absolutely right as Sloane, the psychopathic rent-boy, but lacks the charisma, the moon-imp quality which the part demands. I had no sense of the sheer sexual magnetism which meshes the siblings into his net.

The pace does pick up for the second half, and the laughs do come as they should – with the required I shouldn't really be liking this frisson – but by then it's almost too late.

Entertaining Mr Sloane is at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford until 26 March and tours nationally until 5 July.