The satire pokes fun at the Catholic Church as well as the local police. It’s directed by Barbara Cole Uterhardt and stars Payne as Dennis.
In many versions of “Loot,” the relationship between Hal and Dennis is toned down somewhat, but not here.
“One of my frustrations is that there are some conscious attempts to downplay the relationship between Dennis and Hal, removing that element,” Payne says. “But with that element, it makes more sense. For Hal and Dennis, anything that sounds fun or forbidden, they will try — like robbing banks or having sex with each other. I think they definitely have some impulse control issues. At the least they are blatantly bisexual.”
Payne considers Orton well ahead of his time.
‘Loot’ June 4 – 26 at Onstage Atlanta 2597 North Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033 404- 897-1802, www.onstageatlanta.com
‘True Love Lies’ Through June 20 at Horizon Theatre 1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307 404- 584-7450, www.horizontheatre.com
‘Slasher’ Through June 19 at Actor’s Express 887 W. Marietta St. Suite J-107, Atlanta, GA 30318 404-607-7469, www.actorsexpress.com
“He was openly gay and his plays created controversy,” he says. “He created such deviant characters and because of that his plays are a lot of fun. ‘Loot’ is my fave. I think it’s his tightest script. The stakes keep getting raised higher.”
Starring in “Christina Darling” and “Loot” are like night and day, Payne admits.
“‘Christina Darling’ was like running in a marathon every night,” he says of the play where he had to dress up as Joan Crawford every night. “Doing this is like going to summer camp.”
‘True Love Lies’ at Horizon
In Horizon Theatre’s current “True Love Lies,” a father’s secret past comes back to haunt him. Brad Fraser’s drama finds a family changing forever when their daughter applies for a job as a waitress. The restaurateur balks when he realizes her father is a man he lived with for three years.
Directing the show is Lisa Adler, the artistic director at Horizon. In her mind, the character of David, the restaurateur, is the catalyst of the show.
“On the surface we have a happy sitcom family, but David drops a pebble and causes a ripple,” she says. “David has an immediate bond with the children — they are drawn to each other and David helps them. He also helps some characters realize the importance of moving on.”
Adler likes the fact that “True Love Lies” is edgy, but not edgy enough that it drives people away.
“I am not a gay man, but I can relate to this,” she says. “Brad’s plays follow fluid sexuality: [They are] not about being gay or straight. This is a smart, funny piece that has something to say.”
Finally, Actor’s Express has just opened “Slasher,” a campy takeoff on slasher films. It’s directed by openly gay Freddie Ashley and stars the great Shelley McCook, last seen at the Express in the gay-themed “The New Century.”
Top photo: ‘Loot’ includes (clockwise from top) Doug Graham as Hal, Topher Payne as Dennis, Barry N. West as McLeavy, David Klein as Truscott and Colleen Shannon Gaenssley as Fay. (Photo courtesy Onstage Atlanta)