The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Entertaining Mr. Sloane opens with Kath showing her prospective new boarder, Mr. Sloane, through her house. Kath is dowdy, middle-aged, and clearly attracted to young Sloane, whose surface show of civility masks an air of insolence and potential danger. Kath tells Sloane that she once had a son who would have been about his age, then confesses that the boy did not die but was born illegitimately and given up for adoption. Sloane confides in return that he is an orphan, reared in a children’s home after his parents’ death when he was eight. Kath’s father, Kemp, arrives and is annoyed to learn that Sloane will be moving into their home. While Kath is out of the room, Kemp tells Sloane the story of his former employer’s murder at the hands of a hitchhiker whom Kemp had seen, and then studies the young man’s face and announces that he has seen him before—and could still identify him. The two argue, and Kemp stabs Sloane in the leg with a fork.

Kath returns and orders her father from the room, then removes Sloane’s pants and seductively treats his wound. She has just sent him upstairs to bed when her brother, Ed, arrives, hoping to obtain his father’s signature on what may be a nursing-home admittance form. Although he does not live in the house, Ed is angry about the new lodger and insists that the arrangement will ruin his sister’s reputation. When he meets Sloane, however, it becomes clear that he, too, is attracted to the young man; he offers Sloane a job as his chauffeur, which the young man accepts with the understanding that he is to stay well away from Kath. After Ed leaves, Kath and her father argue and Kemp accuses his daughter—with justification—of wanting to put him in a home. When Kemp has gone to bed, Kath dons a flimsy negligee and seduces the willing Sloane on the living room sofa.

Act 2 opens several months later. Sloane is stretched out on the couch while Ed works on the car—Sloane’s job—outside. Sloane tells Kath about his evening out the night before with three of his friends, and Kath warns him about the dangers of bad company. Kath also announces that she...

(The entire section is 872 words.)