Seducing Mr. Sloane

Entertaining Mr. Sloane

Ooooohh, Mr. Sloane is wearing leather pants. Don’t drool!

Ooooohh, Mr. Sloane is wearing leather pants. Don’t drool!

B Street Theatre

2711 B St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 443-5300

Rated 4.0

Desire, death and deception should never be this funny. It’s almost enough to make one feel guilty for laughing—almost, but not quite.

Mr. Sloane is a good-looking, youthful sociopath. Oh, don’t worry; apparently he only kills old people. Played by the lean, boyish Chad Deverman, a visitor from the Bay Area, Sloane has a foxy charm. He is a street-smart kid, and he knows a good deal and a soft bed when he sees it.

This particular soft bed is in the spare room of the house Kath (Jamie Jones, fresh from playing another hysterical Brit in Sacramento Theatre Company’s recent production of Noises Off) shares with her elderly Da Da (the appropriately crotchety David Silberman). Kath is obviously attracted to Sloane—and Jones makes it a hilarious bit of sight gag as her middle-aged, matronly Kath practically slithers up Mr. Sloane’s virile young body in a bit of cougar action that can hardly be misinterpreted.

Then we meet Kath’s overbearing brother, Ed (the fascinating Jason Kuykendall, who switches out his good-guy persona from the recent Nibroc Trilogy for something altogether more rigid and slimy). He’s prepared to put the kibosh on the room-letting arrangements until he gets a gander at Mr. Sloane in his tighty-whiteys (and yes, from the perspective of straight women and gay men, Mr. Sloane is quite the eye candy).

Now, a bit of sibling rivalry is always good for a laugh; this particular kind of sibling rivalry is, frankly, hilarious with a wide stripe of just plain creepy. And it gets worse, for curmudgeonly Da Da has the goods on Mr. Sloane for a murder; as Kath and Ed engage in a tug of war over the “boy,” everyone works at cross-purposes, and a number of extremely funny lines and sight gags are enjoyed. But when Mr. Sloane kills someone else, the amoral pretty boy finds himself unable to wiggle out of trouble, and instead he’s forced to dance at the end of strings manipulated by a brother and sister puppeteer team.

The rollicking pace of the show no doubt owes a great deal to the work of British playwright Joe Orton, who died before seeing it produced. Allen McKelvey directs, and he’s got the actors taking full advantage of body language and facial expression to complement the rich script. The set is detailed (and the ’60s-era three-legged phonograph cabinet is absolutely enviable) but flexible, creating the feel of a full house.

The fact is, most sociopaths aren’t so funny to watch as Mr. Sloane; but then, most sociopaths don’t manage to put themselves so squarely in the middle of a family that redefines dysfunctional. Whether it’s Kuykendall’s patronizing tone, suffused with the desperation of the social-climbing, wannabe-snob Ed, or the barely-repressed anger and sly manipulation that Jones adds to what might otherwise be a pretty sad character, there’s a lot going on here that’s completely out of Mr. Sloane’s hands. Watching him get his comeuppance is a pure delight. Apparently, he’s not the only one who knows how to get what he wants.