Loot | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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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

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