England in the 1960's may not have been able to get away with overt displays as we can today but that doesn't mean they were any less randy. And that's half the fun with Joe Orton's play, "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" currently playing at Theater Schmeater. They can't come right out and say what they all want from Mr. Sloane but the double and sometime triple entendres and skirting of the real issue makes for a naughtily fun evening.
Director J.D. Lloyd seems to have completely embraced the underlying sexuality of the play as well as the duplicitous nature of the two siblings at the center of it. The aging Kath (Lisa Viertel) has brought home with her the young and handsome Sloane (Harry Todd Jamieson) to live with her and her Father Kemp (Mark Fullerton). But her idea of "Mothering" the young lad seems to be slightly more intimate than we thought as she attempts a seduction shrouded in a façade of indignity. But then enter her bachelor brother Ed (James Cowan) who eyes the young man as a prize he would like to win and the two of them engage in a game of cats and mouse with the not so innocent Mr. Sloane as the unwitting mouse.
The play itself may not have some grand message to impart but it certainly shines a spotlight on the two faced nature of society at the time. On the one had the desire to keep up appearances and live a decent life and on the other giving into their baser desires behind closed doors. And the two damaged siblings seem to have no compunction on who they use along the way.
Viertel doesn't shine in the role, she practically glows. She inhabits the subtle nuances of the lustful Kathy with tons of intensity and focus. She manages to keep the audience guessing throughout with a will she/won't she; does she/doesn't she kind of air. And right there with her is her counterpart of a brother. Cowan never takes Ed to a stereotypical realm but keeps his emotions just below the surface. He does let them peak out every now and again and I would have liked to see a few more just for some levels but what he does show is a joy to watch. Jamieson is delightful as the young man who thinks he's in control and has all the answers only to find he's been their plaything all along. And Fullerton wows with his brilliant facial expressions from the first moment he's on stage adding in some glorious comedic relief to a borderline distasteful story.
But like I said, it's only borderline distasteful. The production keeps on that wire high above that pit of ribaldry like a master tightrope walker and keeps the audience begging for them to fall in. And do they or don't they fall? You'll just have to see for yourself but I can assure you it's a wicked good time.
"Entertaining Mr. Sloane" performs at Theater Schmeater through June 16th. For tickets or information contact the Theater Schmeater box office at 206-324-5801 or visit them online at www.schmeater.org.
Photo credit: D Hastings