Entertaining Mr. Sloane: Irish Classical Theatre

There are jewels of regional theatre spread across the country, and the Irish Classical Theatre is counted among them. Prominent in the burgeoning Buffalo Theatre District, Irish Classical Theatre is helping to draw people to the formerly dark sidewalks of a once-tired city.

Joe Orton’s “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” slyly balances edgy sexual innuendos and proclivities with more traditional British humo(u)r. Written in the mid-1960s as fresh voices were being given a broader platform, the play pricked up many ears and bushy eyebrows with its brashness.

Indeed, when it came time for The Beatles to move to the big screen, they hired Orton to write a screenplay. The results were too edgy for the then squeaky clean Liverpudlians to pursue. (That did not stop George Harrison from later underwriting various Monty Python film projects).

At the Irish Classical Theatre, Anthony J. Grande plays the titular character. As a rather louche chap, perhaps hiding from the law, Mr. Sloane is seeking new digs. Grande does a good job evoking what is needed to appeal to the landlord Kath (Kelli Bocock-Natale) and alternately to her brother Ed (Stan Klimecko). The siblings’ father (Gerry Maher) has little affection for his son or Mr. Sloane; the father’s homophobia undoubtedly standing in for society at large.

Stan Klimecko as Ed, Kelli Bocock-Natale as Kath and Anthony J. Grande as Mr. Sloane.

The roles of the siblings are well-assayed. Indeed, the brother and sister characters are crucial to the play’s success. As a four hander, the script calls for deft interaction among the actors. Kath is a rather lonely and somewhat clueless zaftig, whom Mr. Sloane quickly seduces. The more worldly brother equally sees Mr. Sloane as a younger boy he wants nearer. Klimecko is excellent in his shifting forgiveness and ruthlessness.

Anthony J. Grande as Mr. Sloane ad Kelli Bocock-Natale as Kath.

Kelli Bocock-Natale as Kath and Gerry Maher as Kemp.

The laughs come often and solidly, and with little dialogue reference to the era in which it was written, the play works decades after I first saw it.

The set (by David Dwyer) is laid out cleverly, allowing for three exits through the audience surrounding the apartment flat.

With crisp direction by Greg Natale and a solid command of script by the quartet of actors, Irish Classical Theatre has a hit on its hands.

(Photos by Gene Witkowski)

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.