"Joe Orton’s play reeks of Sixties London and the seedy contradictions of conservative people joining the sexual revolution. Because of the tackiness of the set-up, where a good-looking lodger is preyed upon by a landlady old enough to be his mother, it is not really until the end that we realise how utterly corrupt the relationships are. Under the leather trousers, high heels and lewd exchanges there is a play that is every bit as wicked as Macbeth. The achievement of the play - crackingly directed by Michael Cabot for regular Everyman visitors, London Classic Theatre - is that we’re laughing at the sub-pornographic set pieces and quirky exchanges right through to the end before the debased resolution is reached. Cabot keeps the lid tight on all of Orton’s simmering carnality. Sexuality creeps around Simon Kenny’s brilliantly oppressive set with velvet sofa and two bar electric heater. You can almost hear the young Mick Jagger stirring things up from the wireless in the middle of all this crumbiness."
Liam Heylin - Cork Evening Echo

"When Joe Orton’s first full-length play Entertaining Mr Sloane came to the stage 50 years ago it took the kitchen sink drama to a new level. It opened the door for future playwrights to go beyond the pale and explore deeper darker waters with style and panache. In that sense, the shock value of this play for today’s audiences, raised on scenes of brutality, cruelty and sexual exposes is diminished. What did feel challenging though, even to a modern sensibility, were the psychological intricacies portrayed. The appalling way in which the needs of these four dysfunctional characters interweave, in a sickening web of power and vulnerability, leaves us questioning who is the most morally reprehensible. Labelled by critics as a psychopath, we witness the opportunistic Sloane - played with detached disinterest by Paul Sandys - manipulating a lonely middle-aged women, Kath, as he takes up free board and lodgings in return for his sexual favours. A similar unspoken deal is forged with her brother Eddie who employees him. Sloane’s cold, calculating approach seems to leave him ruling the roost. But, relations between the three characters rapidly become much more complex than that - raising uncomfortable questions about who is manipulating who. The characters flit between victim and persecutor at alarming speed and the lack of genuine feeling or care between any of them as they deal for what they need is truly chilling. Yet, the level of ambiguity with which cast skilfully play their roles still enables us to have some empathy for each of them. Joe Orton focuses on the claustrophobic social mores of the 1950s and early 60s as the root of the problem. Kath carries the shame of being an unmarried mother and the grief of giving up her child for adoption, Eddie the frustrations of being homosexual in an era when it is illegal to act upon it, while Sloane suffers from the lack of understanding about what a child in care might need to be a fully functional human being who can care about others. It is a bleak scenario, made darkly comic at times, offers us timeless truths about relationships between damaged people in this less than perfect human world. A link between the 1960s and now was cleverly reflected in the styling of the set and costumes which seemed to have references to Orton’s era and today. Kath’s living room - a disturbing scenario in which furniture and furnishings pile up at impossible angles – was also poignant, capturing the sense that something is very distorted and wrong here - a tangible reflection of the characters’ internal lives."
Lynne Brighouse - Derby Telegraph

Entertaining Mr Sloane

Writer: Joe Orton
Directed by Michael Cabot
Designed by Simon Kenny
Lighting by Andy Grange
Costume Supervision by Saeni Greene
Photography: Sheila Burnett

Jonathan Ashley, Nicholas Gasson, Paul Sandys, Pauline Whitaker.

Everyman Cork, Derby Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, Buxton Opera House, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, Theatre Royal Winchester, Civic Theatre Chelmsford, New Vic Theatre Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Kath and her elderly father, Kemp, live in a house on the outskirts of a rubbish dump. Their drab existence is interrupted by the arrival of a new lodger, the enigmatic Mr Sloane. Provocative and sexually ambiguous, Sloane soon has both Kath and her brother Ed competing for his favours. But all is not as it seems. Behind Sloane’s nonchalant demeanour lies a calculating psychopath with a dark and secretive past. Seduction, blackmail and murder lie waiting in the wings.

Entertaining Mr Sloane was first staged at the Arts Theatre in London in 1964, winning the London Critics ‘Variety’ award for Best Play of the Year. Its unique blend of farce and black comedy beautifully captures the suppressed desires of the period. Joe Orton was born in Leicester in 1933. He died in 1967.

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