Writer: Joe Orton
Director: Michael Cabot
Reviewer: Nicole Evans
Entertaining Mr Sloane made its theatre debut way back in 1964 and has had revivals since. The Belgrade Theatre currently plays host to the last leg of its 50th anniversary tour.
Telling the tale of 20 year old Mr Sloane; charming in appearance, yet a rough and rugged by nature psychopath, who stumbles upon the home of landlady, Kath, the plot is full of deception and has potential to both charm and entice its audience. With Kath and her brother, Ed, immediately captivated by Mr Sloane’s apparent appeal, desires begin to flare and the flames of jealously are set to ignite in a spectacular fashion.
The set is cleverly arranged and intrigues us as we take our seats. With the whole play being set in one room within a house built on a rubbish dump it is relatively hard to get creative. The design is kept simple and unchanged throughout and the working area of the stage kept small. A sofa and a chair appear to be the only useable props but as the play goes on we soon realise that the surrounding rubbish dump provides not only the setting of the property but also the nooks and cubbyholes of the interior itself.
With minimal props and no accompanying music it is down to the actors to set scene and provide atmosphere, sadly this is where the play falls short. While in 1964 the nature of the play was deemed shocking, in the modern day it doesn’t quite hit with the same impact and for that reason alone it lacks the excitement needed to really connect with the characters. While the cast all fit their rôles well, the story just doesn’t give them enough scope to showcase their talents or enthusiasm and as a result their performances have somewhat of a lacklustre feel to them
. Paul Sandys as Mr Sloane, although slick and sexy in appearance, gives off more of a bored schoolboy vibe at times rather than the dark and murderous psychopath persona he should be portraying and Jonathan Ashley as Ed tends to disappear into the background even when he’s central to a scene. Pauline Whitaker keeps our interest a little more, with Kath’s timely transitions from vulnerable housekeeper to sassy seductress flowing smoothly before our eyes. Her manipulative nature is effortlessly portrayed and she’s the only character we can really believe in. Nicholas Gasson’s transformation to an old man also impresses. Although his rôle is fairly minor, he portrays it well and it is a shock to see him looking so youthful when he takes his final bow.
Overall this isn’t a bad production, and in its prime it would certainly have caused a stir. Unfortunately, 50 years on, it has lost a lot of its seduction and Mr Slone should perhaps consider hanging up his towel.
Running until July 5th.