Thoughts & Musings

2nd Story’s ‘Mr. Sloane’ a thriller with a twist

A little humor among the darkness, and more than a touch of the absurd, sets this fun show off from the run-of-the-mill thriller.

by Channing Gray, Providence Journal
  • 11th May 201511/05/15
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There’s a hint of Alfred Hitchcock in the latest offering from 2nd Story Theatre, that being Joe Orton’s disturbing thriller “Entertaining Mr. Sloane.” We think we’ve got a pretty good idea where this dark, somewhat outlandish tale is headed until the final moments when the tables turn on the dangerous, controlling Mr. Sloane.

And that makes for some intriguing theater, helped along by a somewhat stylized but wonderful performance from John Michael Richardson and a fine showing from Rae Mancini, brother and sister who at first seem so innocent but end up outwitting Mr. Sloane, who’s a born killer.

Things start out reasonably enough when Mr. Sloane, who despite his formal sounding name is just a kid, show’s up at Mancini’s house looking to rent a room. Mancini’s Kath not only welcomes him, but takes no time slipping into a flimsy red negligee and throwing herself at him on the couch.

But Kath’s dotty father, Kemp, played by Tom Roberts behaving like a senile Mr. Rogers, believes Mr. Sloane was responsible for the murder of his boss, and starts raising uncomfortable questions. And that is something Mr. Sloane can’t allow.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sloane gets more and more entangled in the lives of Kath and brother Ed, who would also like to spend time on the couch with Mr. Sloane, played by a buff Cory Crew. Kath, who likes to think of herself as Mr. Sloane’s mommy, turns up pregnant with his child, and Ed has hired him as his chauffeur, for starters.

But when Kemp is discovered beaten to death at the foot of the stairs, Ed and Kath realize a very attractive fly has just been ensnared in their web.

This tight show, which is just under an hour and a half with no intermission, is taking place in the upstairs theater, which director Ed Shea is constantly tweaking. Now it’s a thrust configuration, or three-quarter round, with a nifty living room created by resident set designer Trevor Elliott.

Most of the cast are 2nd Story veterans, except for Crew, who made a pretty convincing psychopath. He’s a tightly wound guy with a lethal temper. But in the end, as the noose tightens, he has no choice but to accept his situation.

Shea is doing the honors as director, and has made Mr. Sloane’s predicament painfully clear. He has also managed to find a little humor among the darkness, and more than a touch of the absurd, which sets this fun show off from the run-of-the-mill thriller.

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