Loot

Original London West End Production with Michael Bates and Sheila Ballantine 1966

London Revival (Royal Court Theatre) with Philip Stone and Jill Bennett 1975

London Revival (Lyric Studio / Arts Theatre) with John Malcolm and Joan Blackham 1980

1st West End Revival with Leonard Rossiter / Dinsdale Landen and Gemma Craven 1984

London Revival (Lyric Hammersmith) with David Troughton and Dearbhla Molloy 1992

2nd London West End Revival with Fred Ridgeway and Tracy-Ann Oberman 1998

London Revival (Tricycle Theatre) with David Haig and Doon Mackichan 2008


Comedy by Joe Orton. Two likely lads, Hal and Dennis, make off with the swag from a bank robbery. In hot pursuit is Inspector Truscott, who swears he's from the Water Board, and Nurse Fay, a Florence Nightingale with the bedside manner of Boudicea. Our intrepid heroes are forced to bury the money in the last place anyone would look... Meanwhile the recently widowed Mr McLeavy is trying to mourn for his late wife - but his son Hal's exploits turn the funeral into a right carry-on...

Joe Orton's other comedies include Entertaining Mr Sloane and What The Butler Saw. In addition, Joe Orton was the subject of Simon Bent's Prick Up Your Ears (Harold Pinter Theatre 2009).


Original London West End Production 1966

Previewed 22 September 1966, Opened 27 September 1966, Closed 29 October 1966 at the Jeanette Cochrane Theatre (Holborn)
Transferred 1 November 1966, Closed 26 August 1967 at the Criterion Theatre

The original cast - and the original West End cast at the Criterion Theatre - featured Michael Bates as 'Inspector Truscott', Sheila Ballantine as 'Nurse Fay', Gerry Duggan as 'McLeavy', Kenneth Cranham as 'Hal', Simon Ward as 'Dennis' and David Redmond as 'Meadows'. Directed by Charles Marowitz with designs by Tony Carruthers.

During the West End run on Wednesday 9 August 1967 Joe Orton was found dead at his flat. The theatre performances went ahead as per usual.


London Revival (Royal Court Theatre) 1975

Previewed 28 May 1975, Opened 3 June 1975, Closed 5 July 1975 at the Royal Court Theatre

The cast features Philip Stone as 'Inspector Truscott', Jill Bennett as 'Nurse Fay', Arthur O'Sullivan as 'McLeavy', David Troughton as 'Hal', James Aubrey as 'Dennis' and Michael O'Hagan as 'Meadows'. Directed by Albert Finney with designs by Douglas Heap, with costumes by Harriet Geddes and lighting by Jack Raby.

Presented for a five week run as the second play in a three-play 'Joe Orton Festival'.


London Revival (Lyric Studio / Arts Theatre) 1980

Previewed 11 September 1980, Opened 15 September 1980, Closed 4 October 1980 at the Lyric Studio at Lyric Hammersmith
Previewed 21 October 1980, Opened 29 October 1980, Closed 3 January 1981 at the Arts Theatre

The cast featured John Malcolm as 'Inspector Truscott', Joan Blackham as 'Nurse Fay', Neil McCarthy as 'McLeavy', Rory Edwards as 'Hal', Philip Martin Brown as 'Dennis' and Tim Charrington as 'Meadows'. Directed by Kenneth Williams with sets by Saul Radomsky.

Kenneth Williams played the role of 'Inspector Truscott' in Peter Wood's 1965 Premiere of the comedy in Cambridge. At the Lyric studio when John Malcolm was unwell, Williams played the role again - but just for one performances.


1st West End Revival 1984

Previewed 8 March 1984, Opened 13 March 1984, Closed 5 May 1984 at the Ambassadors Theatre
Returned 19 September 1984, Closed 12 January 1985 at the Lyric Theatre

The original cast at the Ambassadors Theatre featured Leonard Rossiter as 'Inspector Truscott', Gemma Craven as 'Nurse Fay', Patrick O'Connell as 'McLeavy', Neil Pearson as 'Hal', Paul McGann as 'Dennis' and John Channell Mills as 'Meadows'. The cast remained the same for the return run at the Lyric Theatre with the exception of David John who took over the role of 'Dennis'. Directed by Jonathan Lynn with sets by Saul Radomsky, costumes by Carrie Bayliss and lighting by Mick Hughes.

During the first half of the performance on Friday 5 October 1984, Leonard Rossiter missed one of his stage entrances. He was found collapsed in his dressing room from a heart attack and, although an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital, tragically he had died. The performance was completed with Rossiter's understudy, John Channell Mills, taking over the role. John Channell Mills then continued in the role up to Thursday 18 October 1984 with Dinsdale Landen joining the cast and taking over the role from Friday 19 October 1984 through to the end of the run.


London Revival (Lyric Hammersmith) 1992

Previewed 7 May 1992, Opened 12 May 1992, Closed 6 June 1992 at the Lyric Hammersmith

The cast featured David Troughton as 'Inspector Truscott', Dearbhla Molloy as 'Nurse Fay', Patrick O'Connell as 'McLeavy', Ben Walden as 'Hal', Colin Hurley as 'Dennis' and Richard Hodder as 'Meadows'. Directed by Peter James with designs by Bernard Culshaw and lighting by Leonard Tucker.


2nd London West End Revival 1998

Previewed 10 August 1998, Opened 12 August 1998, Closed 7 November 1998 at the Vaudeville Theatre

Fred Ridgeway as 'Inspector Truscott', Tracy-Ann Oberman as 'Nurse Fay', Gary Richards as 'McLeavy', Gary Whitaker as 'Hal', Alexis Conran as 'Dennis' and Eamonn Clarke as 'Meadows'.

Directed by David Grindley with designs by Stuart Wood, lighting by Chris Scott and sound by Michael Palmer.

A transfer from the Chichester Festival Theatre's Minerva Studio.

"Thirty-odd years on, Joe Orton's exhilarating high comedy of low taste has lost none of its capacity to disturb and surprise... Loot is a glittering, beautifully written farce of bad manners and furious slights against the superstition of death and organised religion... The cast in David Grindley's production is relatively unknown, but they perform with gleeful precision and some expertise. Fred Ridgeway is an honest supporting actor who plays Truscott as a jumped-up official with an Estuary whine and a fetish for his own dignity... He does not miss a self-important, mustachioed trick in a world where everyone has gone mad and the normal standards have been gloriously subverted. Tracy-Ann Oberman is a sharp and pulsatingly knowing Fay, and Gary Whitaker and Alexis Conran deeply disturbing partners in crime and cruel punishment. A most bracing, welcome summer filler in the West End list." The Daily Mail

"Joe Orton was a playwright who was never happy unless he was pushing the boundaries of accepted taste and decency. When this riotous black comedy was first published in 1966, audiences were shocked at the use of an embalmed corpse as a comic prop. However, the Leicester-born writer's skill at rendering the most grotesque idea farcical ensured the thin creative ice he skated upon remained intact. The set-up is simple. Mrs McLeavy lies in her coffin. Her son Hal and his pal have robbed a bank and need to conceal the proceeds. They transfer the body to the wardrobe and fill the coffin with the loot. Enter Inspector Truscott of the Yard, posing rather unsuccessfully as a Metropolitan Water Board official. The play is basically a spoof of the whodunnit. Authority figures and the so-called moral high ground are consistently pricked and pummelled by Orton's larky one-liners, but in these cynical, all-knowing days it's remarkable that much of it still stands up. Fred Ridgeway is a treat as the snivelling, corrupt detective while Tracy-Ann Oberman's Irish nurse nearly steals the whole show. The production avoids the temptation to be tricksy and ironic, and reminds us all how Orton's bloody death was such a terrible loss to Britain's artistic life." The Daily Mirror

"David Grindley's highly entertaining production takes the proceedings at a spirited lick. The combination of intricate farce, plotting, and wordy mock-Wildean epigrams can sometimes leave actors looking as though they've been ordered to run a race while attempting to balance a precarious pile of bone china. But here the cast manage to deliver the dialogue with the right arch stylishness and maintain pace. They do it even at those tricky moments when there's such an escalation of laugh lines, some seem fated to drown in the audience response... When Orton accepted the Evening Standard Best Play Award, he joked that Scotland Yard had snapped up the complementary tickets they'd been sent and that the police loved Loot because, while the public thought it was a fantasy, the boys in blue knew it to be accurate. Since then, many cases of corruption have borne out that view, but Orton's play remains undated in the savage cartoon clarity with which it captures the moral outrageousness of this state of affairs... Fred Ridgeway's Truscott could perhaps afford to transmit more of a sense of danger. That's not a criticism you'd want to make of Tracy-Ann Oberman's superb Fay, the literally fatale nurse who has seen off seven husbands. Wiggling about in a manner that's simultaneously like a severe religious reprimand and sexual come-on, she magnificently combines strict disciplinarian and sinister seductress." The Independent

"Three decades after the 1966 premiere this madcap farce, with its cynical mockery of corrupt policemen, Catholicism and loveless family relations, still hits home with the sting of sharp comic wit. It puts bad taste to good use. David Grindley's production, which happily comes up to town from Chichester Festival's studio theatre, is slightly handicapped by its penny-pinching, amateur look... Fortunately it's no real setback. What matters most in Orton is the tone and style of performance. You need cool actors using just a touch of camp - deadpan and deadly serious - who never emphasise the extravagances and immoralities with which Orton equips his characters... Thanks to a dazzling performance of comic star potential by Fred Ridgeway as Detective Inspector Truscott, Orton casts his old black magic spell again... As the flagrant Truscott threatens and hectors, Ridgeway's speech begins to speed and hurtle. A gleeful fanaticism possesses him. You realise with delight that the Detective is not just a wily crook, putting logic to shame, but a seriously mad one as well. The pleasure of Grindley's swiftly paced production lies not just in this, but also in the nicely ham-fisted scheming of that bisexual duo, Gary Whitaker's Hal and Alexis Conran's Dennis. Tracy Ann-Oberman's Fay is far too little of the double-edged femme fatale. And Gary Richards's McLeavy ridiculously makes this spirit of lower middle class reverence for authority one class too high. But such blemishes do not much detract from the evening's pleasures - of subversive wit and low comedy in which Orton savages the hypocritical arm of the law." The London Evening Standard

Loot in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 10 August 1998, opened on 12 August 1998 and closed on 7 November 1998


London Revival (Tricycle Theatre) 2008

Previewed 11 December 2008, Opened 15 December 2008, Closed 31 January 2008 at the Tricycle Theatre

The cast featured David Haig as 'Inspector Truscott', Doon Mackichan as 'Nurse Fay', James Hayes as 'McCleavy', Matt Di Angelo as 'Hal', Javone Prince as 'Dennis' and Jim Creighton as 'Meadows'. Directed by Sean Holmes with designs by Anthony Lamble, lighting by Charles Balfour and sound by Greg Clarke.