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This article is about the play. For the film adaptation, see Entertaining Mr Sloane.

Entertaining Mr Sloane is a play by the English playwright Joe Orton. It was first produced in Londonmarker at the New Arts Theatremarker on 6 May 1964 and transferred to the West End'smarker Wyndham's Theatremarker on 29 June 1964.

Plot summary

Mr Sloane, a young, beautiful and amoral con man, happens by the home of Kath, a middle-aged landlady who, clearly attracted to him, persuades him to become her lodger. Left alone with Sloane to entertain him, Kath's father Kemp, referred to as Da Da or the Da Da, soon recognizes the young man as the murderer of Kemp's boss, who is still wanted by the police. Sloane engages in a cat-and-mouse game with Kemp over his identity. The situation becomes even more complex when Kath's over-bearing brother Ed appears. Kemp has refused to speak to Ed ever since he discovered him "committing some kind of felony in the bedroom" as a teenager. Kath assumes that Ed will not be pleased about Sloane staying, for fear of her forming a relationship with him, but it is clear from the beginning that Ed is also attracted to Sloane. Ed soon employs Sloane as his driver. Alone with Sloane at the climax of act one, Kath throws herself at him, declaring "I'll be your mamma", as she rolls on top of him and the lights go out.

At the climax of act two, Sloane kicks Kemp to death when he threatens to reveal his identity to the police. Ed is shocked when Sloane tries to persuade him to cover up the murder": "You murder my father. Now you ask me to help you evade Justice. Is that where my liberal principles have brought me?" he asks. Sensing an opportunity, however, Ed tries to persuade Kath to collude in the deception, but when it becomes clear that this involves Sloane leaving to live with Ed, she refuses. Kath begs Sloane to stay, threatening him with the revelation that Kemp informed her of Sloane's previous crime, with which information she would go to the police. Sloane is caught between the conflicting and intractable desires of the brother and sister; "It's what is called a dilemma, boy", Ed explains, "you are on the horns of it." Sloane begs Ed to help resolve the situation:
SLOANE: I'll be grateful.
ED: Will you?
SLOANE: Eternally.
ED: Not eternally, boy. Just a few years.
He pats SLOANE on the shoulder.
Eventually Kath and Ed reach a compromise, agreeing to cover up Kemp's murder and to share Sloane between them, with each "entertaining Mr. Sloane" for six months at a time.


The play premiered in the West Endmarker in 1964, directed by Patrick Drumgoole and starring Madge Ryan as Kath, Dudley Sutton as Sloane, Charles Lamb as Kemp, and Peter Vaughan as Ed. It was designed by Timothy O'Brien, with costumes supervised by Tazeena Firth.

The Broadwaymarker production, directed by Alan Schneider, opened at the Lyceum Theatre on 12 October 1965 and closed after 13 performances. It starred Sheila Hancock as Kath, Dudley Sutton as Sloane, Lee Montague as Ed, and George Turner as Kemp. William Ritman designed the sets and costumes.

The play was revived as part of the Joe Orton Festival at the Royal Court Theatremarker in Londonmarker. Directed by Roger Croucher, it opened on 17 April 1975 and subsequently transferred to the Duke of York's Theatremarker. It starred Beryl Reid as Kath, Malcolm McDowell as Sloane, James Ottaway as Kemp, and Ronald Fraser as Ed. John Gunter designed the sets and Deirdre Clancy supervised the costumes.

The Roundabout Theatre Company revived the play in 2005 under the direction of Scott Ellis. It starred Alec Baldwin as Ed, Chris Carmack as Sloane, Jan Maxwell as Kath, and Richard Easton as Kemp. The design team included Allen Moyer (sets), Michael Krass (costumes), Ken Posner (lights), and John Gromada (original music and sound).

In 2007, the Melbourne Theatre Company staged a production at the Fairfax Theatre in the Melbourne Arts Centre in Melbourne, Australiamarker. Directed by Simon Phillips, it starred Richard Piper as Ed, Ben Guerens as Sloane, Amanda Muggleton as Kath, and Bob Hornery as Kemp. It was designed by Shaun Gorton, with music by David Chesworth.

From 29th January 2009, a production at the Trafalgar Studiosmarker in London starred Imelda Staunton as Kath, Mathew Horne as Sloane and Simon Paisley Day as Ed. Horne collapsed during a performance on 2nd April 2009 with a suspected virus.

Film adaptations

The play was developed for British television and telecast by ITV on July 15, 1968. Clive Exton wrote the screenplay for a 1970 feature film directed by Douglas Hickox and starring Beryl Reid, Peter McEnery, Harry Andrews, and Alan Webb.



  1. Banham (1998, 827) and Orton (1976, 63-149).
  2. Orton (1976, 64).


  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0521434378.
  • Bigsby, C. W. E. 1982. Joe Orton. Contemporary Writers ser. London: Routledge. ISBN 0416316905.
  • Burke, Arthur. 2001. Laughter in the Dark - The Plays of Joe Orton. Billericay, Essex: Greenwich Exchange. ISBN 1871551560.
  • Charney, Maurice. 1984. Joe Orton. Grove Press Modern Dramatists ser. NY: Grove P. ISBN 039454241X.
  • Coppa, Francesca, ed. 2002. Joe Orton: A Casebook. Casebooks on Modern Dramatists ser. London: Routledge. ISBN 0815336276.
  • DiGaetani, John Louis. 2008. Stages of Struggle: Modern Playwrights and Their Psychological Inspirations. Jefferson: McFarland. ISBN 0786431571.
  • Orton, Joe. 1976. The Complete Plays. London: Methuen. ISBN 0413346102.
  • Ruskino, Susan. 1995. Joe Orton. Twayne's English Authors ser. Boston: Twayne. ISBN 0805770348.

External links

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