Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Orton's plays
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Joe Orton's plays

From the programme notes of Peter Gill's Royal Court production of The Erpingham Camp and The Ruffian on the Stair (Crimes of Passion) June 1967.

The Ruffian on the Stair

The play was first produced on the B.B.C. Third Programme in August 1964. A second version of the play was given a production without decor by the English Stage Society on Sunday August 21st, 1966. It is this version of the play that is included in CRIMES OF PASSION.

Entertaining Mr Sloane

The German production: SEID NETT ZU MR SLOANE
The German production: SEID NETT ZU MR SLOANE

The play was given its first performance at the New Arts Theatre on May 6th 1964. It won the London Critics' "Variety" award as the best play of the year. It later transferred to Wyndham's Theatre. It has been performed in many parts of the world and banned in South Africa. Sean O'Casey in a 'pestscript' to his last essay described it as "A play to make a man pull his trousers up". ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE opened on Broadway in October 1965 to a hostile press. It was variously described as "a smelly spectacle", "a singularly unattractive play" having "the sprightly charm of a medieval English cesspool."  The play was said to be of interest "only to those epicenes who look upon the public humiliation of women as grand sport". "The Atlantic Ocean", one reviewer proclaimed, "had become much wider after the first night of ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE". The play ran for thirteen performances and, at the end of the season, won an award for Sheila Hancock who played the part of KATH.  In Germany ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE has had a phenomenal success only the line "I've given my cheque to the anti-Jewish League " being omitted from the text. It hasn't yet been produced in Paris. Among the many reasons given for this, the most important seems to be the impossibility of finding a Frenchwoman willing to take out, or appear to take out, her false teeth in view of the audience.

Kenneth Williams as Truscott in Loot by Joe Orton
Kenneth Williams as Truscott in LOOT


LOOT was given its first performance at the Arts Theatre Cambridge on February 1st 1965. It was described the next day in the Cambridge News as "A Comedy that brought so few laughs". Exception was taken to "Mr Orton's repetitive and nasty sense of humour". The play, although advertised as on a pre-west end tour, was withdrawn after six weeks of indifferent or hostile notices in the provincial press. The play was revived in April 1966 by Graham Murray at the University Theatre Manchester. It was then remounted by the London Traverse Company at the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre in September 1966. The play was an overwhelming critical success and later transferred to the Criterion Theatre where it is still running. LOOT won the Evening Standard Drama Award as the Best Play of 1966.

The Erpingham Camp

THE ERPINGHAM CAMP was commissioned by Rediffusion Television and produced in June 1966. The version of the play included in CRIMES OF PASSION differs considerably from the television version. Sixty percent of the play is original, unperformed material. The television play was described, by an anonymous correspondent to the Sunday Mirror, as "a perfectly annoying play and quite untypical of the way English people behave on holiday"

ORTON has finished the first draft of a third full length stage play and a short play "Funeral Games" which is awaiting production. He was recently commissioned to write a script for the third Beatles' film. The completed script, however, was returned by the Beatles manager as "not quite suitable". The script has been acquired by Oscar Lewenstein who hopes to produce the film in the near future.


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