Loot | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Loot, Dramatist Revolutionary Army, at Wing & Groove Theatre. The song that accompanies the curtain call in this able production--the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black"--brilliantly summarizes Joe Orton's entire body of work. This quintessentially British playwright was obsessed with sullying the inviolable: marriage, love, sex, death--nothing escaped his stringent judgment and biting wit. Loot is a complex farce that combines Pinter's abstracted reality with Stoppard's mathematical precision: clearly it's one of Orton's most fully realized and blackest works. The list of crimes committed by his characters--murder, rape, robbery, extortion, and bribery--is enough to make even the most contemptible soul seem downright puritanical.

Director Jaimie-Lee Wise and the cast do an excellent job of conveying Orton's menacing, gritty tone; the performances and direction are sharply etched. If Wise has erred, it's in underemphasizing the play's comedy and pacing the play too deliberately. At times the six actors--who often prove themselves adept at evoking nuances with a wide range of facial expressions and gestures--play their characters with too much restraint. And a curiously inflexible interpretation of the script undermines the effectiveness of its social satire: under Wise's guiding hand, this is a pungent, engrossing production but not quite the razor-sharp farce Orton intended.

--Nick Green

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment