Entertaining Mr. Sloane

by Joe Orton

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Act I Summary

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Entertaining Mr. Sloane begins with a dowdy, forty-ish woman named Kath showing her middle-class home to a prospective lodger, a street-wise and coarse twenty-year-old boy named Sloane whom she had met that afternoon in the public library. Kath almost immediately hints to Sloane that she is willing to have sex with him and reveals that she once had a young son out of wedlock whom she gave up for adoption. Sloane agrees to take a room in the house, revealing that he was himself brought up in an orphanage.

Kath's elderly father, Kemp, enters, and initially mistakes Sloane for his son, Ed. While Kath is in the kitchen, Kemp talks with Sloane and toasts crumpets (small cakes) over the electric logs in the fireplace. Eventually Kemp decides that he recognizes Sloane as the young hitchhiker who two years ago murdered Kemp's former boss. Kemp then stabs Sloane in the leg with the toasting fork. Kath returns from the kitchen, scolds her father for his uncivilized behavior and then ministers to Sloane's wound, insisting that Sloane remove his trousers so she can apply antiseptic and a bandage. While dressing Sloane's wound, Kath ignores the doorbell, expecting a nosy lady acquaintance who might spread rumors. She somewhat coyly attempts to seduce Sloane. Sending Sloane upstairs for a bath, Kath demands an explanation from her father, eventually sending him to Sloane's former lodging to collect the young man's belongings.

Kath's brother, Ed, then enters. A participant m some kind of vague "business" that sounds like it has underworld connections, Ed has come to get Kemp to sign papers that will commit him to an old folks home. Ed does not live in the same house with Kath and their father, but before his entrance he overheard the talk of the new tenant and now forbids Kath to take in Sloane. Ed already suspects the possibility of sexual relations between Kath and the new lodger and asserts that rumors of such behavior would hurt his reputation and livelihood.

Ed insists on meeting Sloane When he does, Ed is immediately attracted to Sloane himself. The homosexual Ed dismisses Kath, interviews Sloane, and offers him a job as his personal chauffeur. As Sloane goes to eat, Ed tells Kath he will pay Sloane's rent. Ed leaves, and Kath is finally alone with Sloane, who has re-entered from the kitchen Kath quickly seduces the willing Sloane on the living room sofa as the first act ends.

Act II Summary

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One morning, six months later, Kath enters from a shopping trip to find Sloane lying on the sofa wearing boots, leather trousers, and a white T-shirt. Sloane explains that he is resting while Eddie works on the car because Sloane has a hangover from a late night out with three of his male friends. As he fields Kath's probing questions about women, Sloane accuses her of jealousy and attempting to run his life, threatening to leave if she persists. Kemp enters looking for his pills but refuses Sloane's help in finding them. While Kemp babbles, Kath whispers to Sloane that she is pregnant. After Kemp leaves Sloane refuses to marry her. But to mollify Kath, Sloane turns over to her, as a token of his respect, a locket his mother had given him.

Ed enters and joins Kath in vying for Sloane's attentions. After Sloane exits to the kitchen, Ed intimates that he might fire Sloane from his chauffeur's job for joy-riding the previous night, but Kath says she needs her "baby" because Ed took away her other baby, the child she bore out of wedlock to Tommy, one of Ed's...

(This entire section contains 391 words.)

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former friends When Sloane re-enters, Ed traps him into admitting he was with a woman the night before He counsels Sloane on the untrustworthiness of females. Sloane agrees to move out of the house and go with Ed once Sloane receives sufficient financial incentives.

Kemp enters and breaks his usual silence with his son because he wants to tell Ed about Kath's pregnancy, Sloane's crime, and about Sloane threatening and beating him. When Sloane returns and Kemp leaves the room, Ed confronts Sloane with Kemp's accusations concerning the pregnancy. Sloane claims that Kath threw herself at him. Sloane seems penitent, and Ed decides to forgive him if Sloane will promise to avoid women in the future Before he leaves, Ed sides with Sloane against Kemp Once alone with Kemp, Sloane menaces the old man before learning that the police have Sloane's fingerprints. Sloane then confesses the "accidental" killing of Kemp's former boss, attempting to win Kemp's silence. When Kemp threatens to go to the police, Sloane knocks the old man down behind the sofa and kicks him. When Kemp doesn't respond to Sloane's invitation to rise, Act II ends with the surprised Sloane calling for Ed rather than for Kath.

Act III Summary

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Ed enters, finds his father behind the sofa, and carries him upstairs to the old man's bedroom. When Ed returns, he reports that Kemp is dead. While Sloane is shocked and frightened, Kath seems oblivious to the seriousness of her father's condition Ed revels in his new position of power. Sloane begins to pack to leave with Ed, but Ed pretends to be intent on forcing Sloane to face the authorities until Sloane lays his hand on Ed's knee, accepts responsibility for the killing, asks for forgiveness, and promises eternal devotion.

Kath returns screaming, having discovered Kemp's body and finally realizing that her father is dead. Ed convinces Kath that Kemp had been ill and coaches her about what she should say when the doctor arrives. Ed reminds her that if Sloane is tried for murder Kath will lose him, so Kath begins to see Kemp's death in a different light. Kath agrees to polish the stairs and put Kemp's new shoes on him, making it look like he slipped down the stairs. But when Sloane enters with his suitcase, Ed explains that Sloane is coming to live with him. Kath reveals her pregnancy and is shocked when she hears that Sloane has accused her of seducing him. She and Ed argue over Sloane's affections and which one of them is best for him. When Sloane is asked to choose between the two, he chooses to leave with Ed, claiming never to have cared for Kath. Ed cruelly forces Kath to look at herself in the mirror. She sees herself as attractive until Sloane corroborates Ed's assessment of her appearance and the situation in which she now finds herself.

Under these new circumstances, Kath announces that she will describe their father's death as murder and reveal what Kemp reported about the murder of his former boss. Faced with blackmail on both sides, Sloane slaps Kath and threatens her physically In the struggle, Kath's false teeth fall out and roll under the sofa. Then Ed comes up with the idea of sharing Sloane, living with Sloane by himself six months of the year and then permitting Sloane to live six months with Kath. Kath will say that Kemp fell downstairs and Kath and Ed will exchange the locket that Sloane gave her whenever they trade Sloane. The play ends with Ed announcing that it has been a pleasant morning and with Kath sitting on the sofa eating a piece of candy.