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Loot Takes a Swing at the Swinging '60s

Published Monday, December 23, 2013 12:01 am

SARASOTA — The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training's production of Joe Orton's no-holds-barred black comedy Loot opens December 31 at the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. The production is a regional premiere and the New Year's Eve preview performance is a special "pay-what-you-can" event. The play looks at the dark side of London in the swinging ’60s, mocking mid-century British notions of decency. Asolo's Greg Leaming calls it "a punk-rock farce before punk existed."

Poor Mrs. McLeavy is dead. On the day of her funeral, Hal, her teenage son, and Dennis, a perpetually randy undertaker, rob a bank next to the McLeavys' seedy hotel—and do their best to hide the loot while Mr. McLeavy loudly grieves. Ah, but Truscott of “The Yard” is on the case. His corrupt partner Meadows is too, in theory.

 

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The lads turn to Fay, Mrs. McLeavy’s nurse, a devoted Catholic (supposedly), but willing to stash the cash if some of it goes her way. But where? Hang on. Mrs. McLeavy's coffin. She’s lying in state in the hotel parlor. Simply put the money inside and her body someplace else, temporarily. She surely wouldn’t mind. Hilarity, anarchy, chaos, sexual confusion and lost glass eyes ensue. It is, after all, a Joe Orton play.

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then satire must surely be the cruelest form of insult, and Orton’s satirical humor is cruel, sincere and mesmerizing,” says director Jonathon Epstein. “The most cherished symbols of British virtue (and ours too) — the selfless medical profession, the immaculate Catholic Church, the crook with the heart of gold, the incorruptible London bobby whose only weapon beside his silly hat is his integrity—Orton reveals them all to be a Potemkin village of civic misrule. In Orton’s world the nurses are killers, the Church is for sale, the police are brutal and corruptible, and the thieves have no heart at all. The play is fiercely funny and eerily prophetic—if these things were not entirely true in 1965, they’ve at one time or another certainly proved true since. You may grieve, you’ll surely laugh, but you won’t look away.”

Loot runs December 31, 2013, to January 19, 2014, at the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Productions are Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $29 evenings; $28 matinees. Students receive 50 percent off with advance ticket purchase. On Tuesday, December 31, 7:30 p.m., audience members are invited to attend a production of Loot and pay whatever they can afford for their ticket. These special tickets are available on the day of performance only.

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