Joe Orton’s “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” is not a modern comedy. Timely, yes. Relevant, certainly, but entertainment this salacious, blunt and boundary pushing could only originate in the 60’s.
The twisted tale of a manipulative grifter and his eager targets, Joe Orton’s dark comedy sheds light on everything from elder abuse to sexual fetishes. When Mr. Sloane, (Aaron Kirby) charms his way into the home and bed of zealous Kath (Tracey Garrison), their conversations bring to light Kath’s debauched past. The situation grows even more complicated as Kath’s brother Ed (David Shaplowsky) develops his own interest in Sloane, and things go from thorny to dire after Kath and Ed’s father (Gary Murphy) recognizes Sloane, calling into question the young man’s intentions.
Frank in a way current entertainment is not, interactions in “Mr. Sloane” seem at first far-fetched, overt in their premature intimacy. However, the audience quickly adjusts to Orton’s direct, sexually stark universe in which an individual, desperate for intimacy is driven to bare his or her soul no matter the cost. An accomplished cast does justice to Orton’s pointed dialogue, although at times the actors’ accents slip, making it seem as if the family somehow hails from distinct classes and disparate locations.
A lengthy show, “Mr. Sloane” only begins to drag toward the end of the second act, at which point things wrap up with implausible speed. No matter the play’s shortcomings, the characters’ vulnerability and somehow relatable depravity are hard to shake.