David Beazeley and Fiona Reid (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)
Entertainment in Excess
Soulpepper’s Sloane a dark and campy treat
by Christian Baines
There’s a fine line in Joe Orton’s plays, somewhere between British farce and the blackest of black comedies. Productions that find it are rare, but golden, and Brendan Healy’s take on Entertaining Mr Sloane is among them. Gleefully embracing camp excess, but always with one eye on Orton’s darker observations and the morally ambiguous nature of its characters, this Sloane is brisk, acerbic and very, very funny.
Fiona Reid deserves no small credit for this, as her Kath is simply delightful, both as an object of empathy and ridicule. She is in many ways charged with holding the other players together and Reid’s balance of comedy and pitiful neediness equips the show with just enough emotional gravitas to keep the other cast members in orbit. David Beazely’s gravel-voiced Sloane’s accent and mannerisms take a little getting used to. Nonetheless, he hits all the right peaks, and his distinctly cockney spin on the character makes a lot more sense once the overall aesthetic of Healy’s production emerges - as it particularly does with Stuart Hughes’s Ed.