NEW amateur drama group Wildgoose Theatre tackle Joe Orton’s black comedy as their first production, and the cast, who have appeared in several of York’s drama groups, are clearly having a whale of a time.

First performed in 1964, the play is confined to the living room a house by a rubbish dump, shared by Kath and her father, Kemp.

Director Andy Love has cleverly subverted the old ‘walls have ears’ adage- the sparsely-furnished stage is surrounded by the audience, meaning on this occasion the walls have eyes, and the audience is complicit in the characters’ affairs.

A complex love triangle, the show opens with middle-aged Kath showing the young Mr Sloane around her home and offering him a room. Within minutes, she has flirted, spurned imagined advances, and revealed a back story of lost husband and child, before her desire to be a mother figure becomes clearer as her elderly father, Kemp, is introduced.

Jeanette Hunter’s Kath is played as deluded and devoted, by turns childlike and manipulative, knowing she must work hard to keep Sloane interested, and unleashing the waterworks when things start to slip.

Richard Easterbrook’s Kemp is solid, though understated, and makes the most of his largely sidelined character.

Toby Gordon’s Sloane is a manipulative Mr Ripley figure, though the impression is always given that he stumbles into the situations, rather than setting out for his own benefit.

Sloane is cool and quizzical, more curious than conniving, but by the second act he is expertly playing the family off one another.

Martyn Hunter as Kath’s brother Ed is also well performed, channelling a broad Yorkshire tone with Michael Palin-esque tics and tongue pokes, he is a predator in denial- at once lusting after Sloane and ashamed of his desires.

An early face-off is particularly well put together, as Ed and Sloane pace the outskirts of the set like fighters, Ed verbally prodding and poking to test out Sloane’s moral flexibility.

The Thursday night showing deserved to be better attended, but an entertaining, dark and funny show make this an early success for the fledgling wild geese.