Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 328
Loot is a play written by British playwright Joe Orton, and is meant to satirize conventional society, especially the Catholic Church and police forces.
The play begins when two thieves, Hal and Dennis, decide to rob a bank. They choose one next to the funeral home where Dennis works. They succeed, then need a place to story the "loot" and go to Hal's place, where he lives with both parents. Hal's mother is recently deceased, and her body is still in the home. Knowing the police (Inspector Truscott) aren't far behind, in desperation they hid the stolen cash in the coffin.
This decision sets off a round of increasingly strange consequences. Hal's dad and the visiting nurse (Fay), who herself is a gold-digger, are distraught by the events, but Hal and Dennis are focused on not getting caught. Their callous use of the coffin leads to a lot of comic mishaps involving mistreatment of the corpse.
None of the characters are particularly likable, as the father considers whether to remarry and the nurse is trying to position herself to find a sugar daddy, but perhaps the worst is the police inspector, who will use whatever methods necessary to find the cash.
Likewise, characters like Fay give long speeches about what is right, while acting only out of self-interest. As the play unfolds, the "moral" characters (everyone but Dennis and Hal) each reveal that their high words don't add up to ethical actions. When Fay discovers the money, about midway through the play, she immediately demands some of it or threatens to turn Hal in to the inspector.
The corpse is abused, treated horribly, and all in the name of justifying the "good" of finding the loot and punishing the criminals. As the inspector interrogates each character, they begin to turn on each other. Hal manages to convince the inspector that his father, Mr. McCleavy, is the most like suspect and the play ends with McCleavy taken into custody.
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