Final casting is announced today for the 50th anniversary production of Joe Orton’s darkly comic masterpiece, LOOT.
Joining the previously announced rising British stars Calvin Demba (Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award nominee, The Red Lion, National Theatre) and Sam Frenchum (Private Peaceful, Grantchester) and the award-winning Sinéad Matthews (Mrs Elvsted in Ivo van Hove’s Hedda Gabler, National Theatre), are Christopher Fulford (Winston Churchill in Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, The Crucible, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Ian Redford (The Alchemist, Mad World My Master, Candide, all for the RSC) and Raphael Bar (national tour of Out of Order) with Anah Ruddin.
LOOT – from the same producers as the recent sell-out hit The Boys in the Band – is directed by Michael Fentiman, whose credits include two acclaimed shows for the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as the critically-acclaimed hit, Raising Martha.
It will run at London’s Park Theatre from 17 August – 24 September. It will then transfer to the Watermill Theatre, Newbury, Berkshire, from 28 September – 21 October. Park Theatre press night: Wednesday 23 August at 7.00pm.
When it premiered five decades ago, LOOT shocked and delighted audiences in equal measure and it scooped the Best Play of the Year Award in the 1967 Evening Standard Awards. This production commemorates three 50-year anniversaries: Joe Orton’s death on 9 August 1967; LOOT’s first award-winning West End season at the Criterion Theatre; and the momentous, transformative passing in July 1967 of The Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men over the age of 21.
Loot – The Plot
Uproarious slapstick meets dubious morals as two young friends, Hal (Frenchum) and Dennis (Demba), stash the proceeds of a bank robbery in an occupied coffin, attempting to hide their spoils from the attentions of a psychopathic policeman, a gold-digging nurse and a grieving widower. LOOT was named one of the National Theatre’s “100 Plays of the Century”. Sixties style icon Michael Caine loved it so much he saw it six times in 1967. Another fan was Beatle Paul McCartney.
Raphael Bar (Meadows)
His recent theatre credits include a national tour of Out of Order directed by Ray Cooney, The Club and Break Time (Tristan Bates), If My Heart Was A Closed Camera (Chelsea Theatre), Reprehensible Men (Camden Fringe), Skewed Judgement (Cockpit Theatre). On film he played the title role in the movie Pericles.
Calvin Demba (Dennis)
Calvin had an early break in C4’s Hollyoaks then secured the lead in the hit youth drama Youngers. His other roles include a show-stopping turn in the award-winning play Routes at the Royal Court and the film London Road. He wrote and starred in his first short film RueBoy and will soon be seen in the action film sequel Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle.
Sam Frenchum (Hal)
Sam trained at RADA. He recently had a featured starring role in six episodes of Grantchester as Gary Bell, a mentally-challenged teenager sentenced to hang for murder that was really an accident. He was Jimmy Parsons in the film Private Peaceful. As a member of the National Youth Theatre he was Dave in Our Days Of Rage (Old Vic Tunnels), Jack in Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens (Edinburgh Festival), and Orlando in As You Like It, directed by Fiona Laird.
Christopher Fulford (Truscott)
A regular face in British TV and film for over 20 years, he made an early mark playing green-haired punk Alex in the short-lived two-series ITV sitcom, Sorry, I’m A Stranger Here Myself. Memorably he appeared as a suspected child murderer in Cracker, he played Castor Van Bethoven in the movie Immortal Beloved and he starred as Napoleon in the BBC adaptation of Scarlet and Black alongside the then virtually unknown Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz. More recently, he appeared in the ITV1 dramas Whitechapel and Collision, as a suicidal Prime Minister in the TV series The Last Enemy, and as Winston Churchill in Werner Herzog’s movie, Queen of the Desert. On stage he was Rev Parriss in Timothy Sheader’s production of The Crucible at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, The River Line at Jermyn Street Theatre, Nightingale and Chase directed by Richard Wilson at the Royal Court, The Indian Boy at the RSC and as ”A” in Crave as part of the Sarah Kane Season in Sheffield.
Sinéad Matthews (Nurse McMahon)
Sinéad trained at RADA. Her stage roles include Mrs. Elvsted in Ivo van Hove’s recent Hedda Gabler (National Theatre), Laura in Giving (Hampstead), Jane in Evening at The Talk House (NT), Heather in Wasp (Hampstead). As Hedvig in The Wild Duck, directed by Michael Grandage at the Donmar Warehouse, she won the Ian Charleson Award for Outstanding Newcomer. On film she was Queen Victoria in Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, Miss Topsey in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, Alice in Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky.
Ian Redford (McLeavy)
Ian’s extensive theatre credits includeThe Alchemist (RSC/Barbican), Mad World My Master (RSC), Candide (RSC), Our Country’s Good (Out Of Joint), Brimstone and Treacle (Arcola), The Gatekeeper (Manchester Royal Exchange), Love the Sinner (National Theatre), Six Degrees of Separation (Old Vic), Helen (The Globe), Romeo & Juliet (The Globe). TV includes; New Tricks, Mary and Martha, Boogeyman. Film includes; The Trial of the King Killers, I.D, The Remains of the Day, Just Like a Woman.
The Creative Team
Director Michael Fentiman
Designer Gabriella Slade
Lighting Design Elliot Griggs
Sound Design Max Pappenheim
Casting Director Stephen Moore CDG
Produced by Tom O’Connell, James Seabright and The Watermill Theatre in association with King’s Head Theatre
and Park Theatre.
John Kingsley “Joe” Orton (1 January 1933 – 9 August 1967)
Between 1963 when his first play was accepted and 1967 when he died, aged just 34, in a frenzied hammer attack in a murder-suicide at the hand of his jealous partner, Kenneth Halliwell, Joe Orton emerged as a playwright of international reputation.
Fascinated with the macabre, he wrote just a handful of plays, including Entertaining Mr Sloane and What The Butler Saw, but his impact was huge. His reviews ranged from praise to outrage, and the term “Ortonesque”, describing work characterised by a similarly dark yet farcical cynicism, was in common useage. Like Oscar Wilde before him, Orton’s plays scandalised audiences, but his wit made the outrage scintillating.
At the time of his death, aged 34, he was the toast of London, he had an award-winning West End play, two more plays broadcast on TV, was appearing on TV chat shows and had been commissioned to write a movie script for The Beatles. In the end, his death was more lurid than anything he put on stage and made front page news.
Tom O’Connell, James Seabright
and The Watermill Theatre in association
with King’s Head Theatre and Park Theatre
by Joe Orton
Thursday 17 August – Saturday 24 September
London, N4 3JP