‘Loot’ proves Schuster success

The treasure of Joe Orton’s “Loot,” the Schuster’s season- opening show,  is most seen in the details.

The set uses its maximum allowance of stage space, complete with walls in the back that resemble the hallways and bedrooms coming off the living room.  This setup makes use of some slapstick comedy as Hal (Zach Hyman) and Dennis (Zak Westfall) carry the deceased Mrs. McLeavy’s coffin “out” of the house and run into the hallway walls.

As the play opens with Mrs. McLeavy’s funeral, the focal point is Mrs. McLeavy.  It is surprising to realize she isn’t a dummy.  Mrs. McLeavy (Bryan Rhines) has to endure a lot of bumping around as Hal and Dennis rearrange her coffin, but there is no flinching or giveaways on the actor’s part.  Rhines is a very convincing deceased woman.

Besides the set and Mrs. McLeavy, the characters in “Loot” speak and dress for the times.

Fay’s (Lauren Loop) costume in the opening scene is a traditional nurse’s dress that borrows the skirts seen on “Pretty Little Liars.”  Her display of legs, albeit in stockings, says a lot about her character.

Truscott (Mike Fujito) dresses in the style of Sherlock Holmes, pipe and all, which is surprisingly funny as he appeares on stage.  Dennis sports some excellent stage makeup in scrapes and bruises after the incident at Mrs. McLeavy’s burial.

All of the actors must adopt a working-class British accent for the show, which makes the characters more true to life.  The only complaint I have about acting with such an accent is that a majority of the cast talks very quickly and it results in a few missed jokes in the dialogue.

Despite the fact I didn’t catch all of the humor, the actors are able to bring the irony in Orton’s writing onstage. Truscott makes keen assumptions about Fay’s lost husbands, but he is clueless otherwise.

He admits he knows nothing about the law in one scene and says the police just write whatever they want in their reports later on.

His character points to Orton’s low opinions of the English government.

Fay is outright ironic as she wears a crucifix necklace and carries a rosary for most of the show, but is a convicted murderer.

During a scene where she realizes Truscott knows who she is, she starts praying the rosary to herself.  Fay isn’t the only character who satires the church, though.

Hal makes jokes at his mother’s and his own Catholicism when he doesn’t want to undress her outside of her coffin and toward the end of the show where he tells Dennis he must go to confession to purge his soul of the day’s events.

Mr. McLeavy (Michael Haas) goes through his wife’s funeral and Hal’s robbery all in the same day.  McLeavy carries the pope’s portrait around for a few scenes, but lies to Truscott about Hal’s crime to try and keep the money.  He ends up getting arrested when he tries to report Truscott, while the criminals are allowed to claim their stolen notes thanks to Truscott’s gullible nature.

The last scene is imprinted as the three thieves fold their hands in prayer just before the lights go out.

While it seems maybe their characters need prayers, I don’t think the show does.  The actors bring Orton’s satire to life.

“Loot” will continue 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are free with a Gannon I.D. and $7 regularly.




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