Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Loot by Joe Orton is a farce that satirises British manners and institutions such as the Catholic church and marriage.
In the play, Mrs. McLeavy has recently died, and her coffin stands in the sitting room where the play takes place. Mrs. McLeavy's son Hal explains to his mother's nurse, Fay, his father's typical British stiff upper lip reaction to Mrs. McLeavy's death.
He said he was glad she's died at the right season for roses. He's been up half the night cataloguing the varieties on the crosses. You should've seen him when that harp arrived. Sniffing the petals, checking, arguing with the man who brought it. They almost came to blows over the pronunciation.
Mr. McLeavy's relationship with his wife was, on the outside at least, so formal he can only refer to her by her surname.
Mrs. McLeavy is keeping her Maker waiting. I'll pay my addresses to you after the interment.
One of the most farcical elements of the play is that Hal, apparently due to his upbringing, can't lie. Quite a disadvantage for a bank robber. When the inspector asks him, "Where is the money?" he can do nothing but tell the truth.
By now I'd say it was half-way up the aisle of the Church of Barnabas and St. Jude
The truth, however, sounds so ridiculous, the inspector presumes he is making it up.
Understand this, lad. You can't get away with cheek. Kids nowadays treat any kind of authority as a challenge. We'll challenge you. If you oppose me in my duty, I'll kick those teeth through the back of your head. Is that clear?
The inspector continues asking him where the money is, Hal continues to tell him the truth, and the inspector continue to disbelieve him. In the end, the inspector just beats Hal up.
Despite Hal's inability to lie, he is, like his father, hypocritical about his beliefs. While he sees himself as a Catholic, for example, he wants to use the bank money to open a brothel.
I'd run a brothel. I'd run a two star brothel. And if I prospered I'd graduate to a three star brothel. I've advertise "By Appointment"
Even then he has to pretend to add some kind of vague moral code to it.
I'd have a spade bird. I don't believe in the colour bar. And a Finnish bird. I'd make them kip together. To bring out the contrast.
Ironically, the only truly honest, non hypocritical character is Dennis, who Hal states a jealously of, particularly in his upbringing.
That's typical of your upbringing baby. Every luxury was lavished on you—atheism, breast-feeding, circumcision. I had to make my own way.
Dennis lies, steals, and womanizes, but, unlike the others, openly admits what a bad person he is. He is known to the police and says he has made five women pregnant. As he states:
I've never seen the view from the witness box. It'll be a new experience.
At the end, Fay and Dennis decide to get married. Yet despite all the bad things they know about each other, she is still concerned how they would appear to other people.
When Dennis and I are married, we'd have to move out... People would talk. We must keep up appearances.