Schuster Theatre rakes in ‘Loot’

Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre opens with Joe Orton’s “Loot” as the first main stage show Thursday.

As a farce, audiences can expect subtle jokes and satire.

Paula Barrett, associate professor of theatre and director of “Loot,” said it’s tricky getting the irony translated on the stage.

“The cast can’t play for laughs because that’s when it stops being funny,” she said.

“It’s not a Three Stooges type of humor.  The characters aren’t judging [what they do] to be funny, so once they do, the audience stops believing it.”

“Loot” presents the adventures of Hal (Zach Hyman) and Dennis (Zak Westfall) as they rob a bank and get into more trouble progressively throughout the show.

Orton, as a playwright, widely uses satire for humor and leaves the jokes to the wit of the audience.

Barrett said it’s the audience’s reaction that the actors must pursue.

“Nothing is sacred in this play,” she said.

“Loot” has constant references between Catholics and Protestants, which is understandable coming from an English playwright.

There’s plenty of fight scenes and innuendos throughout the show.

Barrett said the satire toward the church is coincidental.

“I don’t think it will be received badly,” Barrett said.  “This show tickles the beliefs of the audience.  It doesn’t attack them.”

Lauren Loop, a senior theatre and communication arts major who plays Fay, took Barrett’s view that there is no typical reverences in “Loot.”

“Joe Orton was very irreverent about everything, which is reflected in the script, and there is no topic that is free from being satirized — women, the police, the Catholic Church, family relations, sanctity of a corpse, brothels…” listed Loop.

“The topics up for debate are endless. The church is just one of the many things that he chose to give his opinion on.”

Michael Haas, a sophomore political science and theatre double major who plays Mr. McLeavey, said the satire is powerful.

“As a Catholic, I realize that this show can be offensive to some,” Haas said.

“Joe Orton’s satirical interpretation of the Catholic Church is not a true representation of the church, in the same way that SNL’s satirical interpretations are not truthful.”

Zach Hyman, a freshman theater and communication arts major, commented on the energy of the show.

“It’s constantly nervous and suspenseful for my character,” he said.  “Hal’s basically lying to everyone else and I have to keep that up while figuring out what to do with the money I stole and everything else.”

Loop observed Orton’s criticisms coming through in her character.

“On the surface, she seems like a nice, caring nurse, but as the play progresses, she transforms into so much more,” Loop said. “Fay’s character has a lot of layers and it makes understanding the role harder.”

Haas spoke about the difficulty playing a character twice his age. His character Mr. McLeavey Hal’s father.

“I had to develop a limp for the role, as well as significantly adjust my physicality,” Haas said.

“The other challenge is that the show is done in a specific accent, so balancing the accent with clarity of speech is difficult, but manageable.”

“Loot” opens 8 p.m. Thursday night at the Schuster Theater. It will also show 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and continues Oct. 9-11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets are free with a Gannon I.D. and $7 for general admissions.



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