Entertaining Mr. Sloane Review
The show is brilliantly done and keeps your attention from start to finish with this hidden comic gem of a play.by Tony Annicone, Theatre Mirror
The closing show of 2nd Story’s season is the three act play “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” by Joe Orton and is condensed into a 125 minute show performed without intermission. It was written in 1964 and is a deliciously kinky, delightfully perverse black comedy about a family with a walk-in closet full of skeletons and a seductive stranger who unlocks these sordid secrets. Sloane is a handsome drifter taken in as a lodger by Kath, a sexually frustrated, middle-aged landlady who lives beside a garbage dump. Ed, Kath’s brother, a supposedly respectable businessman, initially tries to have the suspicious Sloane ejected but he too develops a sexual fascination with the young man and hires him as his chauffeur. Only Kath and Ed’s elderly father seems to recognize the genuine threat Sloane poses. Director Ed Shea casts four incredible performers in this well written show and obtains astounding performances from them. His blocking and direction as well as his keen insight to these slightly off center characters wins them a resounding standing ovation at the close of the show.
Even though this show is billed as a comedy there are harrowing and frightening moments that occur, shocking the audience. Ed keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as the secrets about the family unfold and what the clever but sinister, Sloane does with this information. He melds each secret into a plus for him and explains any wrong doing as the way he was brought up in an orphanage and he goes to visit the graves of his lower class parents that didn’t give a damn about him because they killed themselves. All of the characters are a bit off balance in their misdeeds but the audience savors each and every riveting moment along the way. Ed’s pacing of the show is brilliantly done and keeps your attention from start to finish with this hidden comic gem of a play.
Rae Mancini is marvelous as Kath who at first mothers Sloane then imagines him to be her long lost lover of the past. She has a stunning scene in the closing moments of Act 1 where she obtains what she craves from Sloane at last. Kath has a secret she shares with Sloane in the second act and in the last act plots and plans with her brother to obtain what they both want. John Michael Richardson is excellent as the supposedly upright businessman brother, Ed who tries to hide his true colors. His duplicitous behavior becomes more apparent as the show goes on. Ed is a pompous, hypocrite that seems to care about his family but is really out for number one. He and Rae make strong adversaries in this show. John Michael steals every scene he is in especially funny is when he asks Sloane about certain sports he has played and licks his lips when he mentions pole vaulting. This scene reveals Ed’s true interest in young men. He and Rae excel in these roles.
Tom Roberts plays the irascible father, Kemp who witnessed a murder two years ago but never testified to put the culprit away. He hasn’t spoken to his son for twenty years and became disillusioned with his daughter when she had a baby out of wedlock years ago. Tom brings this curmudgeon to life, cowering in fright of Sloane’s erratic behavior in the second act. Cory Crew is dynamite as this avaricious manipulator of his elders. In his debut performance at 2nd Story, he delivers the goods in spades. As Sloane he establishes compatible relationships with the others using them for his own ends. Sloane weaves his way out of several sticky situations however when Cory erupts into psychopathic behavior the audience is left breathless. Will he end up paying for his misdeeds or not? Cory is usually cast in handsome juvenile leads but this role displays his depth as a serious dramatic actor. I first reviewed him in 2007 in “Stuff Happens” at URI when he was a freshman. So for an electrifying black comedy that shows the underbelly of society in the 1960’s in a very well written script, be sure to catch “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” at 2nd Story Theatre. The more things change the more they stay the same with the way the upper class use people by being sexual predators and how they exploit them for their own ends. A word of praise to Trevor Elliott for his gorgeous 1960’s two story living room set and Ron Cesario for his lovely costumes.