Entertaining Mr Sloane

Farce by Joe Orton. It may be Swinging 60s London but out in the suburbs, behind closed doors, Kath is lonely. Craving love and affection, Kath and her bachelor brother take a lodger. Soon, both become infatuated with the shady young tenant with a murky past - Mr Sloane.

Originally staged in 1964, Joe Orton's wickedly biting comedy sparked controversy with its mischievous peep at the hypocrisy behind the 'new' permissive society of the 1960's and the British fascination with sex.

1964: West End London Premiere with Madge Ryan and Dudley Sutton

1975: 1st West End London Revival with Beryl Reid and Malcolm McDowell/Kenneth Cranham

1981: London Revival with Barbara Windsor and Glyn Grimstead

1993: London Revival with Janet Dale and Ben Daniels

2001: London Revival with Alison Steadman and Neil Stuke

2009: 2nd West End London Revial with Imelda Staunton and Mathew Horne

Joe Orton's other comedies staged in London include What The Butler Saw and Loot. In addition, Joe Orton was the subject of Simon Bent's Prick Up Your Ears.

1964: West End London Premiere with Madge Ryan and Dudley Sutton

Opened 6 May 1964, Closed 23 May 1964 at the New Arts Theatre Club (now Arts Theatre)
Transferred 29 June 1964, Closed 14 November 1964 at the Wyndham's Theatre

The cast at London's Arts Theatre and the West End's Wyndham's Theatre featured Madge Ryan as 'Kath', Dudley Sutton as 'Sloane', Charles Lamb as 'Kemp', and Peter Vaughan as 'Ed'.

Directed by Patrick Dromgoole, with designs by Timothy O'Brien, and costumes by Tazeena Firth.

1975: 1st West End London Revival with Beryl Reid and Malcolm McDowell/Kenneth Cranham

Previewed 15 April 1975, Opened 17 April 1975, Closed 24 May 1975 at the Royal Court Theatre
Transferred 2 June 1975, Closed 25 October 1975 at the Duke of York's Theatre

The cast at London's Royal Court Theatre and the West End's Duke of York's Theatre, up to Saturday 16 August 1975, featured Beryl Reid as 'Kath', Malcolm McDowell as 'Sloane', James Ottaway as 'Kemp', and Ronald Fraser as 'Ed'.

The cast from Monday 18 August 1975 to Saturday 25 October 1975 featured Beryl Reid as 'Kath', Kenneth Cranham as 'Sloane', James Ottaway as 'Kemp', and Harry H. Corbett as 'Ed'.

Directed by Roger Croucher, with sets by John Gunter, costumes by Deirdre Clancy, lighting by Rory Dempster, and music by Georgie Fame.

Presented by the English Stage Company as the first play in a three-play 'Joe Orton Festival'.

1981: London Revival with Barbara Windsor and Glyn Grimstead

Previewed 12 March 1981, Opened 18 March 1981, Closed 11 April 1981 at the Lyric Hammersmith

The cast featured Barbara Windsor as 'Kath', Glyn Grimstead as 'Sloane', David Blake Kelly as 'Kemp', and Dave King as 'Ed'.

Directed by Kenneth Williams, with designs by Saul Radomsky, and lighting by Mark Mumford.

1993: London Revival with Janet Dale and Ben Daniels

Previewed 11 February 1993, Opened 15 February 1993, Closed 20 March 1993 at the Greenwich Theatre

The cast featured Janet Dale as 'Kath', Ben Daniels as 'Sloane', Ian Gelder as 'Kemp', and Christopher Hancock as 'Ed'.

Directed by Jeremy Sams, with designs by Mark Bailey, lighting by Paul Pyant, and sound by Steve Huttly.

2001: London Revival with Alison Steadman and Neil Stuke

Previewed 17 January 2001, Opened 22 January 2001, Closed 7 April 2001 at the Arts Theatre

A major revival of Joe Orton's classic comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane in London starring Alison Steadman

The cast featured Alison Steadman as 'Kath', Neil Stuke as 'Sloane', Bryan Pringle as 'Kemp' (up to Saturday 3 March 2001), Ewan Hooper as 'Kemp' (from Monday 5 March 2001), and Clive Francis as 'Ed'.

Directed by Terry Johnson, with designs by Willian Dudley, lighting by Simon Corder, and sound by Simon Whitehorn.

Alison Steadman's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Teresa' in Terry Johnson's production of Shelagh Stephenson's comedy Memory of Water at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1999; 'Maria Helliwell' in Jude Kelly's revival of J B Priestley's When We Are Married at the Savoy Theatre in 1996; 'Mari Hoff' in Sam Mendes' production of Jim Cartwright's The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice at the Aldwych Theatre in 1992; 'Mea' in Howard Davies' revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1988; 'Elmire' in Bill Alexander's revival of Moliere's comedy Tartuffe, translated and adapted by Christopher Hampton, at the Barbican Pit Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1983; 'Sonya' in Nancy Meckler's revival of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at the Hampstead Theatre in 1979; and 'Beverly' in Mike Leigh's production of his play Abigail's Party at the Hampstead Theatre in 1977.

Clive Francis' London theatre credits include the roles of 'Dr Prentice' in John Tillinger's revival of Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw at the Hampstead Theatre in 1990, and transfer to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre in 1991; 'Judge Brack' in John Dove's revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Hampstead Theatre in 1988; 'John Worthing' in Donald Sinden's revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest at the Royalty Theatre in 1987; 'Humphry' in Harold Pinter's production of Simon Gray The Common Pursuit at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in 1984; 'Colin' in Michael Blakemore's production of Michael Frayn's Benefactors at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1984; and 'Silvio' in Toby Robertson's revival of Carlo Goldoni's A Servant to Two Masters at the Queen's Theatre in 1968.

"Joe Orton's brilliant but short career began with this sharp, shocking play at the Arts Theatre 37 years ago... Last night the play returned to the delightfully refurbished Arts in a gleeful, knowing production by Terry Johnson. Alison Steadman as Kath, in a beehive hair-do and floral dress plus pinny, at last assumed the Beryl Reid role she was born to play... Neil Stuke, pudgy and unnaturally blond, looks more like Paul Gascoigne than a sex magnet. But Miss Steadman steams to triumph as an older version of her own Beverly in Abigail's Party, a woman whose pretensions veil sadness, baby-loss and emotional deprivation." The Daily Mail

"Alison Steadman goes gloriously over the top in more ways than one as dotty, sex-mad Kath who can't keep her hands off her young lodger. And Neil Stuke deserves danger money as the gobsmacked Mr Sloane when she throws herself at him in a see-through negligee and ends up on top of him on the floor. It is a mad mix of murder and mayhem, sex and violence, all played for laughs. In one scene a heavily pregnant Kath is punched in the face and her false teeth are sent flying. You'll hate yourself for laughing, but you won't be able to stop yourself." The Daily Mirror

"William Dudley's 1950s kitsch palace is far too gorgeously ironic for a house set in a symbolic rubbish dump. And while the 40-year-old Kath's false teeth testify to her poverty, physical shabbiness and low expectations, the point is lost in having her played by Alison Steadman, a well-preserved 65... Clive Francis is also too old, as well as too brutish, for Kath's brother, Ed, who at first tries to evict her new lodger, Mr Sloane, then succumbs to his radiant pansexuality... As Mr Sloane, Neil Stuke is pretty enough but lacks Sloane's seductive malleability. Only Bryan Pringle, the sour old Dadda, suits his role, showing us the nastiness that has made Ed a bully and Kath a genteel hysteric... With Steadman's and Francis's unconnected comic turns, the play lacks the poignancy that lies behind their behaving like greedy children." The Independent

Entertaining Mr Sloane in London at the Arts Theatre previewed from 17 January 2001, opened on 22 January 2001, and closed on 7 April 2001

2009: 2nd West End London Revial with Imelda Staunton and Mathew Horne

Previewed 22 January 2009, Opened 30 January 2009, Closed 11 April 2009 at the Trafalgar Studios 1 (now Trafalgar Theatre)

A major revival of Joe Orton's classic comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane in London starring Imelda Staunton and Mathew Horne

The cast featured Imelda Staunton as 'Kath', Mathew Horne as 'Sloane', Richard Bremmer as 'Kemp', and Simon Paisley Day as 'Ed'.

Directed by Nick Bagnall, with sets by Peter McKintosh, costumes by Colin Richmond, lighting by Simon Mills, and sound by Mike Furness.

Imelda Staunton's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Nora' in Edward Hall's production of Michael Hastings' play Calico at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2004; 'Miss Adelaide' in Richard Eyre's revival of Frank Loesser's musical Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1996; 'The Baker's Wife' in Richard Jones' production of Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods at the Phoenix Theatre in 1990; 'Sonya' in Michael Blakemore's revival of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1988; 'Gloria Beatty' in Ron Daniels' production of Ray Herman's They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, based on the novel by Horace McCoy, at the Mermaid Theatre in 1987; and 'Hannah Llewellyn' in Alan Ayckbourn's production of his play A Chorus of Disapproval at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1985.

At the afternoon matinee performance on Thursday 2 April 2009, the start of the second half of the play following the interval was delayed by about 10 minutes. Then, around 15 minutes into the second half, while Mathew Horne (Sloane) and Simon Paisley Day (Ed) where on stage together, Mathew Horne suddenly collapsed on stage. Although the audience initially thought it was part of the performance, with Mathew remaining motionless on stage, it quickly became apparent that it was more serious. Paramedics arrived quickly and treated him on stage, as the Stage Manager came on stage to announced that the performance was cancelled and asked the audience to leave the theatre. Mathew was taken to hospital, but was discharged the same day. There had been a stomach bug that had been effecting the cast and, following the cancelled matinee performance, Imelda Staunton became unwell and pulled out of the evening performance.
A statement issued by the theatre said: "Both were seen by doctors later that day and have been told they have a virus." The following day Mathew's Agent said: "He has been working very, very hard and hasn't had a day off in weeks. It's been a relentless past six months for him. He was taken to hospital with a mild case of exhaustion. He had tests but is now out of hospital. He didn't go on last night and he is going to see how he feels before deciding when to go back on stage." In their absence understudies took over their roles for the rest of the week - Fergus March as 'Sloane' and Sharon Eckman as 'Kath'.
Both Mathew and Imelda where able to return to the play on Monday 6 April for the last week. In a statement, Mathew said: "I am delighted to say I am feeling much better and will return to the show tonight for the final week. I feel terrible for letting audience members down last week when I was ill, and I am so grateful for the wonderful letters of well wishes from everyone. We have all had an amazing time working on Sloane since January, and I am just glad to be back in full health for the final week of this tremendous production."

"A slice of life at its most bestial, was how one critic described Joe Orton's first and best play, Entertaining Mr Sloane, when it opened in the Sixties. In a new revival, it is the casual violence that chills, not the casual sex, which, by comparison, seems almost cosy... Imelda Staunton's excellent Kath is both very funny and curiously touching, mainly because she handles innuendo with a plausible naivety... Nick Bagnall's production sags a bit towards the end and Mathew Horne's insolent, butter-wouldn't melt, bisexual and brutal Sloane needs more edge, but Simon Paisley Day is in fine form as Kath's lecherous rival for possession of Sloane. The play is still entertaining and - thanks to the truthful performances - much more than just a farce about a nymphomaniac, a homosexual and a psychopath, but it is not the shocker it once was." The Mail on Sunday

"The director Nick Bagnall has a high-performance star at his disposal in Imelda Staunton, who plays Kath with fervid delight, changing gears from bustling and diminutive to lascivious and sex-crazed without breaking a sweat... But Mathew Home, who should bring louche complexity and disorientating charm to Sloane, fails to make his performance add up to more than the sum of its parts. It felt like the work of an actor used to the short sprints of filming scenes for television, but lacking the stamina and concentration for a part which must subtly change shades over two and a half hours. Orton's script, too, though funny in flashes, feels like a historical document... it now all feels rather tame." The Sunday Telegraph

"Imelda Staunton's Kath is a real treat: one part hunched vulnerability to two parts powder keg of desire. Mathew Horne is less convincing, affecting a curious, sulky adolescent disengagement that misses the bold, erotic swagger that makes Sloane such a magnetic and dangerous figure. Forty-five years on, Joe Orton's Oedipal menage-a-trois has lost much of its power to shock. On the other hand, the play's language, with its sly double entendres and surreal subversiveness, remains distinctive, crying out for liberation from the restrictive social context of its original creation... The production feels like a period piece, ensuring that, although entertaining, it's some way short of must-see status." The London Metro

Entertaining Mr Sloane in London at the Trafalgar Studios previewed from 22 January 2009, opened on 30 January 2009 and closed on 11 April 2009.