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October 10, 1985 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-10-10

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Thursday, October 10, 1985

Page 7

a
x

'Loot'

sacks society's

institutions

By Noelle Brower
M ONEY. What would you do to
to attain it? Maybe you'd play
hide-and-go-seek with your mother's
freshly embalmed corpse? Or
perhaps you're too moral, and would
settle for flushing all of your religious
ideals down the toilet?
The characters in Joe Orton's
macabre play Loot, performed by
Suspension Theatre, do all of the
above and more; they play becomes a
grotesque study in black humor that
will either elicit cries of laughter or
cries of outrage from the audience.
In this blackest of farces Orton uses
his sharp wit and keen observations of
society to parody the conventional
whodunit/mystery play. Orton wrote,
"...my writing is a deliberate satire
on bad theatre."
"Orton is simply one of the most
talented comic writers I've ever read.
Loot is just about the funniest play I
know," says Andy Mennick, artistic
director of Suspension Theatre. But
Orton, who has often been compared to
playwright Oscar Wilde, does not
write comedy just for comedy's sake.
His plays are distorted tableaux of
how he pictures society, but like
reality facing the circus mirror the
reflection is often more true than the
subject itself.

Like Wilde, who was an influence on
Orton's writing, Orton's textual
allusions are more profound than the
surface comedy. "Orton is very often
capable of writing a strong subtext
and he doesn't just write for laughs.
There is an anger that comes out of
everything he writes which deals with
socio-political-economic;, religious
and sexual aspects of life," Mennick
says, laughing at the distance he has
just covered.
But Mennick is not simply playing it
safe by naming everything but the
kitchen sink as a quality of Orton's
writing; in Loot, Orton fuses all of
these ideas and social standards and
drags them through the mud with the
good getting. dirty, and the bad
smelling like roses.
One is almost taken aback at the
realization that while the play elicits
belly-aching laughter, what we are
laughing at are the sacred institutions
of society, such as the church, the
police (legal upholders of society's
ideals), death and the family. In
drawing such grisly pictures on life,
Orton almost achieves the opposite ef-
fect of constructive criticism; people
cannot belive that anyone would be so
blatantly nihilistic. He must be kid-
ding, right? Wrong.
Loot becomes a wolf in sheep's
clothing; its humor and absurdity are
extreme, yet its assertions are ob-

viously true.
Imagine a son carrying the body of
his dead mother around the stage. He
isn't looking for a decent burial place,
he just wants to get rid of her so he
can hide the loot somewhere. "Think
of your mum. Your lovely old mum.
She gave you birth," the son's
bewildered accomplice says at his
callous behavior. And in true Or-
tonesque macabre the son replies, "I
should thank anybody for that?"
while we can abhor his actions, the
question uneasily creeps into our
minds that we might all be capable of
doing the same, given the situation.
When Loot first appeared in 1966,
there was a strong public outcry
against it. The Lord Chamberlain, in
charge of licencing and censorship, a
position that no longer exists in
England, demanded that several
revisions be made before Loot could
be publicly performed.
Through Loot was eventually suc-
cessfully staged, Orton did nothing to
eliminate the problem. He was as out-
spoken in his personal life as he was in
his plays. And like his idol, Wilde, Or-
ton was looked down upon for his open
homosexuality.
"Orton's homosexuality was quite
brave-for him the closet did not
exist," explains Mennick, "His at-
titude was one of 'The one way I'll
ever be accepted is if my plays are

famous. then I can be as outrageous
as I want.' It gave him a licence to
shock."
This attitude coupled with a stub-
born ego only made it harder for Or-
ton to obtain the acceptance he wan-
ted so badly. "Orton had a big ego.
He lapped up fame with every ounce of
his body," says Mennick. Unfor-
tunately it was Orton's brutal murder
by his longtime lover that made his
plays infamously lasting, and for a
while, blacklisted.
On August 9, 1967, Orton's

frustrated lover, Kenneth Halliway,
who years before had befriended Or-
ton and smoothed the rough edges of
his writing, bludgeoned Orton to
death, and then swallowed 22 Nem-
butals. In 1973 Orton's plays were
revived, newly interpreted, and very
successful, establishing him as a
playwright of lasting stature.
Orton had become an influence for
such playwrights as Stoppard and
Durang. "(It took all these later
writers) to bring that kind of outrage
to the stage and make it accep-

table-but in a sense water it down
becuase they weren't Orton-to bring
their own ideas to it. This made Orton
more accessible," explains Mennick.
"Orton writes about oppression and
anarchy and how we welcome it in-
to our lives and accept it as
authority," says Mennick.
Go see for yourself. What would you
do in the position of the characters in
Loot? Performances are tonight
though Sunday and the following
weekend at the Performance Net-
work. Showtime is 8 p.m.; with
matinees at 4p.m. on Sundays.

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Apple honors Lennon

Grand Opening specials

NEW YORK (UPI)-"Strawberry
Fields," a tear-drop-shaped memoral
garden in Central Park, was
dedicated to former Beatle John Len-
non, a tribute that his widow likened
to "taking a sad song and making it
better."
Yesterday would have been Len-
non's 45th birthday had he not been
murdered in 1980. It was the 10th bir-
thday of his son Sean, who stood shyly
beside his mother, Yoko Ono, as she
addressed 250 invited guests under
clear autumn skies.
"This garden is the result of all of us
dreaming together. It is our way of
taking a sad song and making it bet-
ter," said Ono, borrowing a line from
the Beatles' classic, "Hey Jude."
"May the birth of this garden be the
beginning of the century of peace."
The 2%-acre memorial is at the
park's 72nd Street entrance, across
Central Park West from the
Dakota - the gothic brick building
where Ono still lives, and outside
wehre Mark David Chapman sho
Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980.
It is graced with trees, plants, and
other gifts from 123 nations, including
a round black and white mosaic from
Italy with the word "Imagine" at the
center. "Imagine" was the name of a
1971 song and album of Lennon's.
Ono paid $1 million for the garden
and its perpetual upkeep.

Mayor Edward Koch, who signed
a bill to create the park four months
after Lennon was killed, called it a
"tranquil glade" and said it was most
appropriate.
"Here in Central Park, John's
vision of a world living in harmony
has been translated faithfully into a
garden of peace," he said.
Guests included singers Robert
Flack and Melanie, screen star
Michael Douglas, and Marcella Perez
de Cuellar, wife of the United Nations
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Freshman - Sophomore - Junior - Senior Women Welcome!!

WHAT ARE'
WEEKENDS MADE OF?
EE
S4°- AND READING THE WEEKEND MAGAZINE

Alpha XI Delta Rush Party:
Personal Interview:

Thursday, October 10, 7:00 p.m.
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union
Friday, October 11, 7:00 am -
Michigan Union

(If you do not have an appointment, please contact
Panhellenic at 663-4505.)

Preference Party:

Saturday, October 12, 4:00 p.m.
Location will be announced.

7,

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