| Chicago Reader


LOOT, Writers' Theatre Chicago. Joe Orton's chief obsessions as a playwright--sex and death--inform his most scathing social critiques, and nowhere more powerfully than in this masterful dark farce about a group of small-time criminals and lowlifes who conspire to dispose of a cadaver and stash their stolen money in the casket. (Ironically, he was beaten to death by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, in 1967, just two years after this work's completion.)

This production marks the second time Loot has been seen on Chicago stages this year. Like the Dramatist Revolutionary Army in its production this spring, Writer's Theatre Chicago emphasizes the acting--and though the result is equally bold it's very different in feeling. Unlike Jaimie Lee-Wise's staging, Gary Griffin's highlights the script's farcical and satirical aspects. At all times tight, fast paced, and seamless, it misses the mark on tone, as does Griffin's cast, all of whom play their roles with just a trifle too much ironic distance. And while both the acting and direction are superb, neither fully conveys Loot's grit and menace, essential in showing how dangerously close Orton's travesties are to real life. --Nick Green

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