DECEMBER 31, 2013-JANUARY 19, 2014
Joe Orton takes a swing at the swinging ’60s in this no-holds-barred black comedy.
(Sarasota, Florida) FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training presents the regional premiere of Loot, Joe Orton’s scurrilous send-up of mid-century British notions of decency, December 31, 2013-January 19, 2014, at the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $29 evenings; $28 matinees. Students receive 50 percent off with advance ticket purchase. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Asolo Rep’s box office at the FSU Center for Performing Arts; 941-351-8000. Pay What You Can Night: 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.
Loot reveals the dark side of London in the swinging ’60s. 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 McLeavy’s 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. 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.
Greg Leaming describes Loot as, “a work of darkly comic perfection.” He adds that, “It’s a punk-rock farce before punk existed. Orton had that same working-class ferocity, and same desire to tear down anything false or repressive.”
The director of this Asolo Conservatory production, Jonathan Epstein, agrees.
“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 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. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Asolo Rep’s box office at the FSU Center for Performing Arts; 941-351-8000.
About Joe Orton
Joe Orton (1933-67) was a noted British author, screenwriter, and playwright who amused and outraged audiences in his brief career. His black comedies include Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1964), What the Butler Saw (1969), and Loot (1967). His prolific output and meteoric rise to fame ended when he was murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, in their home.
About Jonathan Epstein
Jonathan Epstein is in his first year with the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, where he is responsible for the Shakespeare performance training of the second-year MFA candidates. As a formidable Shakespearean actor, Epstein has played kings and clowns in everything from Lear to Richard III to Macbeth. His directing credits include A Moon for the Misbegotten, Henry V, Henry IV Part 1, Coriolanus, Women of Will, The Hollow Crown, Barnes & Noble Conquer the World, The Pretext and The Verdict. Epstein is best known for his 25-year association as actor, director and teacher with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. He was text and sonnet teacher in more than 30 of the company’s month-long acting workshops; Epstein’s Shakespeare and sonnet workshops have electrified theater companies, high schools, and colleges around the country. In summer 2014, he will be directing his own adaptation of the Henry IV cycle at Shakespeare & Company.
About The Conservatory
The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is a celebrated three-year graduate program culminating in a master of fine arts degree. For more than 35 years, tens of thousands of actors from across the continent have auditioned for admission. A maximum of 12 students are admitted each year. In their second year, the students perform in the Cook Theatre, a 161-seat space designed to create an intimate experience for the audience and actors. Third-year students are seen on the Mertz Stage working with the Asolo Rep’s professional actors in exciting and significant roles. For more information, visit www.asolorep.org/conservatory.