Joe Orton’s LOOT (playing at Hub Theatre Company’s First and Second Church digs through April 12th) was wildly subversive in its day—Orton based the corrupt British policeman on a real case—and it was wildly funny, to boot. I was afraid it might have lost some of its teeth but it actually delivers a bite Orton couldn’t have anticipated fifty years ago.
John Geoffrion, Hub’s artistic director, it turns out, is a consummate comedian. He plays the brutal copper who gains illegal entry into a house, claiming to be from the Water Board. No warrant needed, you see, if there’s a leak! Orton couldn’t have imagined the twenty-first century definition of “water board” back in the day. What makes the farce even creepier is that Geoffrion makes him hilarious, looking, for all the world, like a mild mannered James Joyce, channeling Monty Python and his own performance in Blackadder.
While we’re laughing at the absurdities on stage involving a funeral, the law and a whole lot of purloined cash which needs to be hidden, Orton makes his nifty, sardonic point: If we think this is so bloody funny (AND WE DO) then we’re complicit. Everyone is corrupt, even us…especially us (the Brits and the U.S.), using torture to gain information in the name of “Homeland Security.”
Timing is everything in farce and director Daniel Bourque is fortunate to have Geoffrion, whose every move is a treat, Kevin Paquette as a shady undertaker, more concerned with the sexy nurse than the deceased and Meredith Stypinski as that naughty nurse who’s eyeing the dearly departed’s bereaved husband. They play off each other like fine Swiss clockwork.
Poor grieving man, that widower, (Thomas Grenon nailing vague innocence), he doesn’t stand a chance once Stypinski’s bombshell “angel of mercy” sets her sights on him. C.J. David makes the son an ineffectual narcissist. He’s the cog that makes the wheel turn in the beginning and Sean Cooper is the Bobby who halts the momentum at play’s end. If only there were a coda where Geoffrion could come back and intimidate us.