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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 21
Schmee's Mr. Sloane more than entertaining
Arts & Entertainment
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Schmee's Mr. Sloane more than entertaining

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE
THEATER SCHMEATER
Through June 16


Joe Orton wrote Entertaining Mr. Sloane some 50 years ago. Yet it can feel as absurd today as it did then, although the absurdity might come from a different sociological angle. Produced by Theater Schmeater with a talented foursome, the play examines repressed emotion and what happens when it 'pops out.'

Director J.D. Lloyd could maybe pull a bit more of that repression out of the characters, but he keeps the three-act play's rhythm light and quick, rather than dwelling on the characters' dark sides.

The Mr. Sloane of the title is a young man with a sad history of orphanhood, abandonment, and a lack of proper role models (as he is frequently given to explaining), who is offered lodging with a spinster and her father. Her brother Eddie takes a fancy to Sloane and offers him a job, along with multiple perks. Eddie tries to believe in the young man, even when he's pretty sure Sloane is lying to him.

Lisa Viertel plays seductive cougar Kath, who has to hide her sexual desires to conform to the repressive English mores of the time. Viertel's ability to expose both her inner and outer character's needs is a high point of the production. Her instant abashedness when she's caught out and her sly methods of bargaining for her pleasures are a hoot.

Kath's main adversary is her brother Eddie (James Cowan), with whom she has to fight over Sloane in a subtle game of subverted love. Eddie may never hint at his own homosexual tendencies, but they are referred to early on by his dad, Kemp (Mark Fullerton), when Kemp talks about finding his son in a 'disgusting' embrace in his late teens and not wanting to speak to him ever again.

The object of Kath's and Eddie's affections, Sloane (Harry Todd Jamieson), allows himself to be seduced by Kath while hiding all sorts of other inappropriate behavior from his employer.

Jamieson hints (and could be more revealing) that Sloane believes he's playing a sophisticated game, and is duping the others to get what he wants. However, it becomes clear that he's merely a pawn.

Back in the 1960s, the absurd feel of the play was likely due to its homosexual undertones. Today, we might accept that aspect without thinking, but the play also contains a huge amount of domestic violence, to which contemporary audiences may react with a heightened sense of outrage.

It's great to see a Joe Orton play on stage and experience what is still a trenchant observation of the human condition. The play is likely to deepen as the talented cast takes more chances and reveals more depth in their roles.

For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call (206) 324-5801.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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