A shocking, savage comedy from Joe Orton (Loot, Soulpepper 2009, What the Butler Saw, Soulpepper 2010), Entertaining Mr. Sloane pits Sloane, a brooding, dangerous lodger against his hosts. As Sloane prowls the house, his charm works on everyone but it cannot help him shake his dark past and shadowy impulses. Mature content.
David Beazely, Sloane
Stuart Hughes, Ed
Fiona Reid, Kath
Michael Simpson, Kemp
Brendan Healy, Director
Yannik Larivee, Set & Costume Designer
Kimberly Purtell, Lighting Designer
Richard Feren, Sound Designer
Nancy Dryden, Production Stage Manager
Ashlyn Ireland, Assistant Stage Manager
Simon Fon, Fight Director
Diane Pitblado, Dialect Coach
By Toby Malone, Ph.D
For a playwright with a relatively skinny resume, Joe Orton's reputation, cultivated during his short, controversial life, continues to burgeon. Of his nine plays, only three are regularly produced - with Entertaining Mr. Sloane joining Loot and What the Butler Saw, Soulpepper has now produced all three - and he is perhaps best known for how his life ended rather than the achievements leading up to that moment. Yet, when we stop to examine the darkly comic, cynical, dangerous contents of his work, it becomes clear that Joe Orton was a master playwright whose blunt force death from his lover wielding a hammer at age 34 prevented the creation of a greater canon.
Of the three aforementioned Orton pieces, Entertaining Mr. Sloane is the most dangerous. A general tone of menace lingers over the interactions between the shady, beautiful lodger Sloane and his simpering yet aggressive landlords. Sloane's true character glimmers through at irregular periods as the desperately maternal lady of the house, Kath, attempts to domesticate a man who is essentially a wild animal. For Orton, the danger that simmers just below the surface, based around the unsaid details of the past and the unsayable actions of the present, which throws the future into terrible doubt. The outrageous brother/sister combination of Kath and Ed, along with their suspicious father Kemp, is farcical fodder for the manipulative, guarded Sloane. As the title suggests, 'entertaining' Sloane becomes a priority, with all else falling by the wayside.
Entertaining Mr. Sloane was the last of Orton's plays produced in his lifetime, preceding his gruesome bludgeoning by some three months. Much to Orton's amusement, he managed to slip most of the play's gay themes past the censoring Lord Chamberlain's Office, who took more exception to the heterosexual references therein. Master playwright Terrence Rattigan so supported Orton's controversial play that he invested a considerable sum of money to ensure its performance on the West End, acknowledging that despite scathing criticism, the work was well ahead of its time. The controversy only served to cement Orton's reputation as an artist, selling tickets and earning plaudits that he would live only months to enjoy.