Entertaining Mr Sloane

Joe Orton
Trafalgar Studios 1
(2009)

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Nick Bagnall has secured a West End run for this revival on the back of the popular Imelda Staunton and more particularly Gavin and Stacey heartthrob, Matthew Horne.

Like his titular character, Horne certainly has pulling power, judging by the camera-wielding gathering outside the theatre on opening night, both before and after the show.

Inside the theatre, Peter McKintosh has designed a suitably shabby set with peeling wallpaper and fading soft furnishings. This is the living room kept neat and tidy by Kath, played by Miss Staunton.

She is on the simple side but always eager to please and that will prove her downfall. The actress's portrayal of the enjoyment that she takes from life's little pleasures and particularly the prospect of befriending the new, young lodger is a real joy to behold.

This highly accomplished actress is probably better able to handle the exaggerated acting style demanded by the director and misses fewer of the laughs than her colleagues. This does not mean that this incarnation of Joe Orton's 1960s satire on the lower middle classes is not funny. However, despite some good work on the situational comedy and great double entendres, too many humorous lines fly by without audience appreciation.

Simon Paisley Day makes Kath's brother Ed austere, even in his repressed passion, while Richard Bremmer garners sympathy for old Dada, a punch bag who is rather like an elongated version of Albert Steptoe.

Matthew Horne will inevitably please the ladies with his boy band good looks and a chauffeur's uniform straight from some leather fetish club. Whether his rather bland acting as the boy who seduces brother and sister, kills shamelessly and might even be introducing an underlying theme of incest will depend on taste.

For TV addicts, a chance to see Horne in the flesh will be too good to miss. Fans of Orton might not be quite so enthusiastic. For them, the fine comedy acting of Imelda Staunton will be the draw to a production that should have had greater sparkle.

Visit our sponsor 1st 4 London Theatre to book tickets for Entertaining Mr Sloane.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher