Entertaining Mr. Sloane

By Joe Orton

Entertaining Mr Sloane

“Mr Sloane .........You should wear more clothes Mr Sloane, I believe you are as naked as me.”

A landlady and her brother entice a psychopathic young man into sexual liaisons. Witty, sharp, alarming and hilarious, “Entertaining Mr Sloane” is a subversive black comedy of unscrupulous sexual manipulation.

Joe Orton tells the provocative story of Mr Sloane, a sly and handsome young man who works his way into the household of Kath, her brother Ed, and their father. Kath wants something between a lover and a substitute baby, while Ed wants someone to drive his car dressed in a tight t-shirt and a leather cap.  The charismatic Mr Sloane thinks that he can play a good game with both brother and sister vying for his attention, but he quickly finds he is drawn into a shameless and unnerving tangle of sex, blackmail, bribery and violence. Not that he minds of course!

Entertaining Mr Sloane was Orton’s first full-length play. It was first staged in 1964.

Entertaining Mr Sloane - Theatre Review

Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane is perhaps one of the most influential and shocking British plays from the Sixties. This production by The Play’s The Thing offers an intriguing evening of theatre, showcasing the naughty nature of Orton’s writing. Following the story of a mysterious young man seeking somewhere to board, the eponymous Mr Sloane (Richard Galloway) gets drawn into the complicated world of his landlady, Kath (Lisa Stenhouse) and her brother Ed (Davin Eadie). As sexual attractions develop on all sides, Mr Sloane’s cosy new life begins to unravel as he tries to play the siblings against one another.

The strength of Orton’s writing can be felt throughout the piece and, when played to its full potential, the piece has the audience laughing knowingly one minute and grimacing through the violence of it all the next. Director Rosemary Hill has clearly delighted in this aspect of the piece, allowing her actors the freedom to revel in every innuendo and tongue in cheek comment. There’s also a knowing sense of decay (moral and physical) that runs through the piece, highlighted by Kevin Jenkins wonderful set design. The house is physically crumbling at its edges, with huge mounds of rubbish outside the window, hung up to dry on a washing line. The Sixties inspired furniture further adds to the tangled quality of Kath and her father, Kemp’s life – a mess of memories, hardship and ill-placed consumerism, the piece rolls along steadily, exploring theme upon theme. Holding up what Orton perceived as the hypocrisies of the lower-middle class, exploring heterosexual and homosexual desire and the racist and sexist comments of the characters, it’s no surprise how shocking this was in the Sixties.

Richard Galloway is simply electric as the enigmatic Mr Sloane, layering phoney naivety, skilled flirtation and psychopathic tendencies neatly together to create a compelling performance. Galloway switches on a dime from seduction to pure hatred and it is thrilling watching Sloane’s unpredictability unfurl. Lisa Stenhouse is an intriguing Kath, part lonely and broken mother, part intelligent seductress, part immature child. Whilst her delivery was perhaps a little rushed and flat at the beginning of the piece, Stenhouse warmed into the role quickly and revelled in the contradictory parts of her character. Davin Eadie’s Ed was also delivered well, portraying the ‘working class boy done good’ nicely. Eadie and Galloway do a fantastic job with their characters first meeting, all frustrated yearning and leading questions. Colin Jeffery completes the cast as the almost blind father, Kemp, getting lots of laughs in the highly physical role. A solid cast, producing engaging work on the whole.

The pacey three act piece keeps the audience absorbed, and the energy rarely drops. Toying with several significant themes, and adeptly managing Orton’s stylised dialogue this is, indeed, an entertaining evening. Predictably, The Play’s The Thing continue to show what they are exceptionally good at – producing high-quality productions of relevant and influential classic plays. Where else in this area do we get to see such important plays delivered so adeptly? Definitely one to catch whilst you can.

Carly Halse – Female Arts

How to book

Please see Stantonbury Theatre booking information.


  • Nancy Stevens, Secklow Sounds - 30 November 2018

    “MK’s brilliant director, Rosemary Hill has once again chosen a brilliantly satirical black comedy, Joe Orton’s “Entertaining Mr Sloane”. “Mr Sloane ………You should wear more clothes Mr Sloane, I believe you are as naked as me.” A landlady, and her brother entice a psychopathic young man into sexual liaisons. Witty, sharp, alarming and hilarious, “Entertaining Mr Sloane” is a subversive black comedy of unscrupulous sexual manipulation. Joe Orton tells the provocative story of Mr Sloane, a sly and handsome young man who works his way into the household of Kath, her brother Ed, and their father. Kath wants something between a lover and a substitute baby, while Ed wants someone to drive his car dressed in a tight t-shirt and a leather cap. The charismatic Mr Sloane thinks that he can play a good game with both brother and sister vying for his attention, but he quickly finds he is drawn into a shameless and unnerving tangle of sex, blackmail, bribery and violence. Not that he minds of course! The tiny cast of four, is headed by the brilliant Lisa Stenhouse, as Kath, the landlady who is both cottequish childlike and manipulative in equal manner. She’s vulnerable but with a core of steel which she manages to hide when it suits, Stenhouse, has such an expressive face and this is the second role I’ve seen her in and she’s so versatile, a real talent. I had the pleasure of interviewing Northern Irish actor, Richard Galloway, who plays the utterly devious Mr Sloane, and in reality is simply one of the nicest actors I’ve ever met, so it came as a bit of shock to see him totally transform into the narcissistic manipulative, chameleon-like Sloane who attempts to play the siblings against one another. He’s unlikeable and cruel and one yearns for his comeuppance. A classy piece of acting from Galloway. Davin Eadie as Ed, Kath’s misogynist, closeted and controlling brother presides over the household with a rod of iron, cloaked in respectably, and obsessed with status and in denial about his sexuality. Colin Jeffery’s performance as Dada (Kemp) is amazing, ageing himself by at least 15 years, he initially appears as a Steptoe curmudgeonly character, but is sharper than his years and soon has the measure of Sloane. Kevin Jenkins’ set risks being the star of the show as his attention to detail is beyond precise and the lounge reflected every 60’s aspirational home. Hats off yet again, to Rosemary Hill who has directed a play which was ahead of its time, yet demonstrates subjects relevant to today and her casting choices for The Play’s The Thing are, as usual sublime.”

  • Sean Calvert - 30 November 2018

    ‘I’m going to tell you something. Prepare to raise your eyebrows’

    It may be the swinging 60’s but the social conventions and confines are as restrictive as ever. Joe Orton takes a big shiny pin and bursts the moral, judgemental balloon.

    With a gorgeous 60’s pop soundtrack, gorgeous set (outstanding work as ever by Kevin Jenkins) which took me back to my Grandparents living room. Red glow from the electric fire included. This is far more than an amazing looking and lit production (lighting by James Tearle) it’s a lovely confection.
    But a confection made of dark, delicious things. Lisa Stenhouse as Kath is hilarious, disturbing and sympathetic in equal measure.
    Richard Galloway’s ‘Sloane’ is fascinating, his standing in the social order of the house is constantly changing and Richard’s portrayal of this sociopath is compelling.

    My favourite character was Ed who was played superbly by Davin Eadie. This sexually repressed character trying so hard to keep up the facade of Heterosexuality. It’s the gorgeous moments when the facade cracks that I loved most.

    Completing the cast Colin Jeffery as Kemp. This shambling old man whose eyesight is failing is in so many ways the most tragic of these flawed characters. Colin’s physicality in the role is a joy.

    All in all a wonderful night in the company of some beautifully flawed characters.

    Go see this – it’s brilliant

  • Beverley Webster - 30 November 2018

    What a fantastic production of “Entertaining Mr Sloane” by the Play’s the Thing. We saw it on Saturday night and were absolutely bowled over by the acting, the direction, the set, the lighting, the sound, costumes, hair and make-up et al.

    We were whisked back to the 60s to a suburban house on the edge of a rubbish dump where the seemingly naive and belittled Kath took in a lodger young enough to have been the baby boy she was forced to give up for adoption a couple of decades earlier. Her grumpy and pretty much blind father thinks there’s something familiar about the lad and when Ed, the son he hasn’t been speaking to for many years, arrives determined that his sister doesn’t need a lodger there’s something he sees in Mr Sloane to persuade him otherwise…

    I’d seen a couple of Orton’s plays before but this one was definitely the slickest, both from a writing and production standpoint, with a clear narrative providing an insight into Orton and the characters’ thought processes which informed their ever more desperate actions. The actors were all excellent in their roles and we were both transfixed throughout. There was a dark streak of humour running through the play and the subtleties of the relationships between the characters were a joy to behold.

    Congratulations to all involved with the production, yet again another Play’s the Thing success!

  • Nik Larcombe - 30 November 2018

    As ‘The Play’s The Thing’ begins a second decade leading regional theatre, you have to take a sneaky look at its track-record. After so many years, is the company’s output tired or outdated? Or safe?

    I’m admittedly a great fan of the company’s work – all of it – and so my answer is obvious. But one of the many reasons that I love and value ‘The Play’s The Thing’ is undoubtedly also the reason for its enduring success; that it is still fresh and individual, with production values and artistry that would be lauded absolutely anywhere. In every performance there is a sense of fun and liveliness; an attention to detail which is highly intelligent rather than pedantic; there’s individuality with purpose and most of all, there’s a tangible love of drama. It’s contagious and accessible and absorbing.

    ‘The Play’s The Thing’ alternates between vividly-staged, masterfully-chosen theatre ‘classics’ and its own original scripts or devised performances. Following on from its successful original creation ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ which celebrated the centenary of The Vote for Women in the UK, ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane’ offers an extraordinarily clever contrast.

    Male-dominated, misogynistic and certainly not a love-letter to the human spirit, Joe Orton’s controversial play could be seen as a strange choice to follow ‘Shoulder to Shoulder.’ However, there something of a ‘theatrical vaccination’ to this performance.

    We know that a vaccination takes the offending disease in weakened or extinct form and allows the human body to build its own natural resistance. The pathogen is resisted. In today’s climate of ‘#MeToo’ and the next steps on the road to full gender equality, this performance of ‘Sloane’ is that vaccine; we watch, recognising the toxicity of Kath’s treatment and we are revolted. The statement is made subtly in reverse. A witty choice for the company, particularly when flawlessly executed in the acting and the direction.

    And both of those aspects of this production are strong throughout. Despite its often stylised speech-patterns and the purposeful grotesquerie of the characterisation, this was an absolutely captivating three-act performance, the time flying faster than the innuendo. It’s no easy task; getting the balance of Orton’s characters right is a challenge. The trio of Kath, Ed and Sloane, locked in their struggles of power, manipulation and lust are played perfectly by Lisa Stenhouse, Davin Eadie and Richard Galloway respectively.

    Lisa Stenhouse takes no time in introducing us to Kath’s facades – seemingly dominated, needy and repressed while toying with Sloane and proving every bit the Machiavellian woman at the end. Stenhouse’s wonderful caricature is never overblown and manages to flit mercurially between moments of apparent naivety, vampishness and callousness.

    Davin Eadie gives us an impressively faceted Ed – a masterclass of internal tensions as he portrays Ed’s upstanding and influential avatar beneath which he buries his homosexuality and need to reconcile with his ‘Dada.’ Written at a time when Ed’s desire still ‘dare not speak its name,’ ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane’ makes much of the opportunity to tease suggestively and playfully while also requiring the energy to bring Ed’s repression to the stage. Eadie is excellent at this, and also portrays the character’s hypocrisy and bullying as splendid armour for Ed’s vulnerabilities. His open misogyny is quite rightly uncomfortable to watch, and never thrown away.

    Richard Galloway’s Mr. Sloane offers a portrayal which contains sinister undertones from the outset, but is still clearly and delightfully wrong footed by Kath’s whirl of mothering and sexual play. Galloway’s creation of Sloane’s psychopathy is ever-present in the way he ingratiates himself into the household, only breaking when he falls victim to his own trap. Like his co-stars, Galloway plays Sloane’s changing ‘masks’ with ease.
    While it could be seen as a less pivotal role, Kemp or ‘DaDa’ as played by Colin Jeffery is typically excellent. This bigoted and somewhat doddery old curmudgeon is superbly realised physically and vocally, with Jeffery revealing his skill to the full during the curtain call as he strode forward to join the cast and we saw the feeble-limbed, geriatric shuffle disappear.

    Direction was, as expected from ‘The Play’s The Thing’ confident and completely in synch with the source material. I think you can always tell great direction from the way it is not noticeable – instead, it allows drama to flow with the rhythms of the script. ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane,’ directed by Rosemary Hill, was precisely like this: the synergy between space, actor and audience was perfect, while the script was realised with the company’s trademark immersiveness, and socio-historical awareness. As Rosemary Hill was also responsible for the production of the piece, you get similar congruence in set, lighting, sound and so on. Kevin Jenkins’ set is as great as ever, weaving sixties realism with the clever combination of the garbage-printed drapes behind the front room set, being both an effective reminder of the laundry one shouldn’t air in public, the dysfunctional domestic space created in the play and the claustrophobic, highly symbolic rubbish tip surrounding the house.

    The intrinsic excellence in Orton’s play has always been the unapologetic way the characters are unlikeable and self-seeking whilst also being magnetic and entertaining. The Play’s The Thing makes ‘Sloane’ a guilty pleasure, combining both sexy, hyperbolic fun with unforced social commentary and the result is another gem in the company’s tiara.

    And a glittering tiara it is!

  • Steve Dimmer - 30 November 2018

    Loved the show tonight. So callous and vicious, the exact right tone for Orton. I thought the casting was great and it was good to see Kemp played properly. So many productions sideline the character which makes the ultimate solution in the play unconvincing. Thought the whole cast were excellent, pace was spot on and some good exploited silences. Really enjoyed tonight. Wish the set curtains had been drawn for Kath’s seduction and Kemp’s murder but as the house in on a rubbish tip maybe I’m being pinickety. Although there is a neighbour that sees everything…..

  • Bart Gamber - 30 November 2018

    Congratulations to Rosemary Hill and Play’s the Thing for a terrific evening of theatre! “Entertaining Mr Sloane” is a well-paced and affecting drama with an impressive range of provocative themes, ably explored. The humour throughout is effective and makes the dark moments that much more unnerving. Well done to the whole cast and crew!

  • Kath Yates - 30 November 2018

    Wow! What an amazing performance of “Entertaining Mr Sloane” at Stantonbury Theatre – well done indeed Rosemary Hill, Davin Eadie and everyone. If you haven’t got a ticket – get one!

  • Samantha Stevenson - 30 November 2018

    Loved it ..funny..entertaining…fantastic set…a great play

  • Simon Raynor - 30 November 2018

    Saw this last night. Great production- very funny, dark and non-PC!

  • Lucy Anderson - 30 November 2018

    Go see it! Brilliant!

  • Elliot Willis - 30 November 2018

    A must see! Deliciously dark!

  • Annette Probert - 30 November 2018

    Loved “Entertaining Mr Sloane” Brilliant!

  • Deborah Cooper - 30 November 2018

    I went to see ‘Mr Sloane’ on Friday. It was fantastic and the audience clearly appreciated it so much. Fantastic. Thanks very much!

  • Stantonbury Theatre - 30 November 2018

    We’re so impressed with the current production of Entertaining Mr Sloane that opened tonight. Great work by @playsthethingmk, excellent performances & direction.

  • John Pinkerton - 30 November 2018

    Great cast, great production!

  • Sue Whyte - 30 November 2018

    I finished my theatre day with “something old”, but certainly not stale or cosy “Entertaining Mr Sloane” by The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company. Mr Orton certainly knew how to do the unexpected and make things dangerous which is probably why much of his work is still performed and resonates despite its origins in the sixties. Strong performances all round, loved the design which seemed to incorporate and reflect “dirty linen hung out to dry” within the play itself, fast paced with some wonderful black humour moments.

  • Andra Alexander - 30 November 2018

    The acting was superb. Your direction was flawless. With your skilful nurturing and embodiment of Orton’s play, you gave the audience an opportunity to savour each word and nuance from start to finish. Each character carefully crafted and intertwined with the other characters. Absolutely loved the set too. Bravo!

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