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Loot proves arresting farce!

Loot – Wanganui Repertory Theatre, Reviewed by Laurel Stowell

Director Mark Rayner stepped into the role of pompous British bobby just two weeks before opening night – and he stole the show. As Inspector Truscott, he was longwinded and sententious, rocking back and forth on his heels in his overcoat, with his bowler hat firmly jammed down on his head. He was like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and one of the Thompson twins in a Tintin adventure – except more decisive and dominant.

He had the policeman’s way of talking in bureaucratese, always uttered with huge self-importance, and he got a lot of laughs and had some great lines to deliver:

“I’m afraid reading isn’t an occupation we encourage among police officers.”
“How dare you involve me in a situation for which no memo has been issued?”
“My wife is a woman. Intelligence doesn’t come into the matter.”

Loot, a black comedy by Joe Orton, has the familiar farce plot line. A sum of money missing, a nurse with designs on the husband of a dead woman, a ne’er-do-well son and his wet-behind-the-ears accomplice, comings and goings, subterfuge, exposure.

All the action happened in the deceased woman’s bedroom. Her corpse was first stuffed into a wardrobe, then undressed behind screens, shedding a glass eye in the process.

Linda Kerfoot played the deadly nurse smoothly, with all the right facial expressions and subtlety of movement. The man she had set her sights on was played by Chris McKenzie, the only honest person in the story.

The young miscreants were played by Mike Pyefinch and Troy Taylor. One could not tell a lie and was easily intimidated by the inspector; the other was cowed by some very realistic onstage physical violence. At one point he was choking because his collar was grabbed from behind, and the next moment he was thrown across the stage to land in a heap on the floor.

The sixth member of the cast was Carey Knapp, who made a cameo appearance as a burly and laconic police constable.

The set was gorgeously detailed with religious ornaments to suit the Catholic pretensions of the actors. If you like a classic farce, this is the one. Loot runs until May 11th at the Wanganui Repertory Theatre, Ridgway St.

LOOT-9
SUSPICION: Neither Nurse Fay McMahon (Linda Kerfoot) nor Inspector Truscott (Mark Rayner) are quite what they seem.