Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Minneapolis/St. Paul

Loot at TRP amuses after a stiff start

Misty Anne Bremer and
Stuart Goetz-Smith

Joe Orton's blacker-than-soot, award-winning farce, Loot, outraged the British Establishment in 1966, but its themes of greed, cynicism, bisexuality, deceit, Catholicism and hypocrisy, class, sexism and corruption feel more routine today. Put on a farce that's dated, play it in-the-round, with not a single door to slam, throw in a slew of awkward British accents, and it's a banana skin on the sidewalk, waiting to happen. After skidding through a stiff start that lacks oomph, director Terry Lynn Carlson manages to right Theatre-in-the Round's production so that it becomes entertaining, but not hilarious.

Orton's witty script remains ripe for irreverent hilarity by presenting a sort of surreal lunacy in the guise of everyday ordinariness. Young Hal and his chum, Dennis, have robbed the bank next door. Hal's dead mum waits in her coffin in the sitting room to be driven to the cemetery. Hal has stashed the bulky loot in a locked cupboard, but once Inspector Truscott begins snooping around, the cupboard seems less safe. In a madcap decision, he and Dennis prop the body in the cupboard and stuff the lolly in her coffin, necessitating constantly shifting the corpse to hide it from nosey Truscott. Meanwhile, with her eye trained on the main chance, seven times widowed Nurse Fay maneuvers the grieving widower toward marriage.

Farce needs to be as slick as the workings of a Swiss watch. On opening night, TRP's Loot got off to a clunky start, with a trio of characters. Stuart Goetz-Smith plays the naive widower, McLeavy; appealingly ordinary Goetz-Smith's reading lacks emotional variety and an instinct for comedy. McLeavy's capricious son, the thief, Hal, has remarkable swiveling hips and '60s-style sideburns in Michael David Postle's interpretation, but his campiness feels consciously assumed, and he doesn't manage to drive the role to its full potential. Misty Anne Brehmer is the Machiavellian nurse, Fay. She feels young for the authoritative and much-married nurse and it's not until she has nutty Truscott to play against that she hits her stride. Hal's partner in crime is the gum-chewing hearse driver, Dennis, played by Sam L. Landman. Patrick James Albergo completes the cast as Meadows, a policemen.

TRP's production catches its balance once Andy Babinski as the mildly lunatic Truscott of Scotland Yard walks on scene and energizes the stage. In a Colombo-like mackintosh, Babinski, also youngish for his part, carries the role with confidence. His line delivery and comic timing are right on. Truscott is a relentless bloodhound on the trail of a hot scent, urbane, cynical and batty as a church belfry. To prove that he's a master of disguise, he whips off his tweed hat and declares, "See!" In a fun exchange, Truscott inquires after the dead woman's commitment to nudity (he has just stumbled upon her now naked corpse, off-stage,) and her husband, thinking that the Inspector is asking about his dead wife's charity work, warmly affirms her dedication.

Kirby Moore designed the simple '60s-period set, Michelle Clark captures a feel for the time in her costume design, and Robert J. Smith provided the props, which include a glass eye and an unreliable coffin.

Director Lynn Carlson manages the challenges of presenting farce in-the-round, a mostly young cast and the limited resources of community theater to make Loot an amusing evening out.

Loot Theatre in the Round Players, January 5 —28, 2007. Fridays and Saturdays 8:00 p.m., Sundays 2:00 p.m. TRP Theatre, 245, Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis. Tickets: $20. Call 612-333-3010 or at

- Elizabeth Weir

Photo: copyright Act One, Too, Ltd.

Be sure to check the current schedule for theatre in the Twin Cities area

Privacy Policy