UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Joe Orton : the Oscar Wilde of the welfare state Levinson, Karen Janice 1977

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J O E ORTON:  T H E OSCAR WILDE OF THE WELFARE  STATE  by KAREN J A N I C E  LEVINSON  B.A. ( H o n o u r s ) , U n i v e r s i t y C o l l e g e , London, 1972  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department o f E n g l i s h )  We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g to t h e r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1977 (c)  Karen J a n i c e L e v i n s o n , 1977  ii In  presenting  this  an a d v a n c e d  degree  the  shall  I  Library  f u r t h e r agree  for  scholarly  by h i s of  this  written  thesis at  the U n i v e r s i t y  make  that  it  purposes  for  freely  permission  It  financial  is  The U n i v e r s i t y  of  British  2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5  30 A p r i l 1977  British  by  for  gain  Columbia  shall  the  that  not  requirements  Columbia,  I  agree  r e f e r e n c e and copying  t h e Head o f  understood  English  of  of  for extensive  permission.  Department  fulfilment of  available  may b e g r a n t e d  representatives. thesis  in p a r t i a l  of  or  that  study.  this  thesis  my D e p a r t m e n t  copying  for  or  publication  be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t  my  ABSTRACT  T h i s t h e s i s has a dual p u r p o s e :  firstly,  t o c r e a t e an  awareness  and a p p r e c i a t i o n o f Joe O r t o n ' s p l a y s ; moreover t o e s t a b l i s h O r t o n as a f o c a l p o i n t i n modern E n g l i s h drama, as a p l a y w r i g h t whose work g r e a t l y i n f l u e n c e d and a i d e d i n t h e d e f i n i t i o n o f a f o r m o f drama w h i c h came t o be known as B l a c k Comedy.  O r t o n ' s f l a m b o y a n t l i f e , and t h e e q u a l l y  s t a r t l i n g method o f h i s d e a t h , d i s t r a c t e d c r i t i c a l plays f o r a long time.  a t t e n t i o n from h i s  In t h e l a s t few y e a r s t h e r e has been a r e v i v a l  o f i n t e r e s t i n O r t o n ; but most c r i t i c s have o n l y n o t e d h i s l i n g u i s t i c i n g e n u i t y , h i s a c c u r a t e e a r f o r the humour i n h e r e n t i n t h e l a n g u a g e o f e v e r y d a y l i f e which l e d R o n a l d Bryden t o dub him " t h e O s c a r W i l d e o f Welfare State g e n t i l i t y . " of s o c i a l m a t t e r s :  T h i s t h e s i s demonstrates Orton's treatment  he i s c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e p l i g h t o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l  i n s o c i e t y ; he s a t i r i s e s v a r i o u s e l e m e n t s o f modern l i f e ,  particularly  t h o s e i n s t i t u t i o n s which w i e l d a u t h o r i t y ( l i k e t h e Church and t h e P o l i c e ) , and t h u s c o n t r o l men.  O r t o n ' s s a t i r e on t h e s e i n s t i t u t i o n s may be seen  as e x t e n d i n g t o an a t t a c k on t h e W e l f a r e S t a t e , a s o c i a l phenomenon which e p i t o m i s e s a l l t h e a s p e c t s o f c o n t r o l O r t o n d i s l i k e d so much.  The  title  of t h i s t h e s i s t h e r e f o r e makes t h e c o n n e c t i o n between O r t o n ' s v e r b a l b r i l l i a n c e and h i s c o n c e r n f o r humanity. The i n t r o d u c t o r y c h a p t e r d i s c u s s e s t h e a t r i c a l t r a d i t i o n s w h i c h have been an i m p o r t a n t i n f l u e n c e on O r t o n ' s work.  may  These t r a d i t i o n s a r e  iv  not only considered i n general terms; they are a l s o d i s c u s s e d with p a r t i c u l a r r e f e r e n c e t o p l a y w r i g h t s (and o t h e r a u t h o r s ) whom O r t o n  admitted  to admiring g r e a t l y .  Travers,  W r i t e r s a n a l y s e d i n t h i s c h a p t e r i n c l u d e Ben  S t r i n d b e r g , P i n t e r , and, o f c o u r s e , O s c a r W i l d e .  These dramatists  are  n o t examined t o deny O r t o n ' s o r i g i n a l i t y , but r a t h e r t o prove i t ; i t i s shown t h a t O r t o n ' s p l a y s cannot be c a t e g o r i s e d ; h i s work i s a f u s i o n and r e v i s i o n o f s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n t t h e a t r i c a l forms. O r t o n ' s seven p l a y s can be d i v i d e d i n t o two g r o u p s : more r e a l i s t i c dramas, and t h e l a t e r f a r c i c a l p l a y s . i s made p u r e l y on a c c o u n t  the e a r l i e r ,  This d i v i s i o n  o f form; the t h e m a t i c c o n c e r n s may  differ  s l i g h t l y from p l a y t o p l a y but do n o t v a r y from group t o g r o u p .  The  c e n t r a l themes i n t h e s e dramas i n c l u d e man's i s o l a t i o n i n s o c i e t y , t h e greed and b e s t i a l i t y o f mankind, the c o r r u p t i o n o f t h e Church and P o l i c e , and man's h y p o c r i s y . "comedies o f l a n g u a g e " ;  Chapter  the  II t r e a t s t h e e a r l i e r , more r e a l i s t i c  the major a n a l y s i s i s of l i n g u i s t i c d e v i c e s ,  p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e c h a r a c t e r s ' use o f euphemism, and t h e d i s l o c a t i o n between the p r o p r i e t y o f t h e i r words and the a m o r a l i t y o f t h e i r d e e d s . III d i s c u s s e s Orton's  Chapter  use o f f a r c e , and h i s g r e a t t h e a t r i c a l a c h i e v e m e n t  i n u s i n g a t r a d i t i o n a l l y l i g h t - h e a r t e d g e n r e t o make a s e r i o u s comment a b o u t mankind.  O r t o n ' s f a r c e s show man as a v i c t i m o f modern s o c i e t y ,  the f r a n t i c pace o f f a r c e p r o v i d e s a t h e a t r i c a l c o r r e l a t i v e f o r h i s view o f man's s t r u g g l e f o r s u r v i v a l i n a h o s t i l e u n i v e r s e .  In both  these  c h a p t e r s , e a c h p l a y i s examined i n d i v i d u a l l y f o r themes, t o n e , form  and  l i n g u i s t i c devices. The f i n a l c h a p t e r c o n s i d e r s O r t o n ' s e f f e c t on some i m p o r t a n t o f t h e l a t e 1 9 6 0 s and e a r l y 1970's. 1  dramatists  The works o f D a v i d M e r c e r , Simon  V  Gray, Tom S t o p p a r d and P e t e r Barnes a r e b r i e f l y examined, and s i m i l a r i t i e s t o O r t o n i n theme and t o n e a r e n o t e d .  It i s stressed that although  O r t o n ' s g r e a t e s t a c h i e v e m e n t may w e l l have been i n t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f B l a c k Comedy as a g e n r e , h i s i n f l u e n c e can be s a i d t o be w i d e - r a n g i n g s i n c e many modern w r i t e r s have e m u l a t e d i n d i v i d u a l e l e m e n t s o f h i s s t y l e . However, t h i s c h a p t e r , and t h e t h e s i s as a whole, s t r e s s e s t h a t i n t h e f i n a l a n a l y s i s , O r t o n ' s work must be c o n s i d e r e d  inimitable.  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  CHAPTER CHAPTER  I. II  1  . . .  "I  CHAPTER I I I CHAPTER  6  51  IV  104  NOTES  114  BIBLIOGRAPHY  123  - vi -  CHAPTER I  In a l l t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e New Drama i n B r i t a i n t h e r e i s no c a r e e r more s p e c t a c u l a r , and a l a s none b r i e f e r , than t h a t o f J o e O r t o n J T h i s comment by John R u s s e l l T a y l o r i n h i s book The Second Wave a s h i f t i n c r i t i c a l opinion about Orton.  epitomises  O n l y s i x y e a r s e a r l i e r , Mr. .  T a y l o r had d i s m i s s e d E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e as " c o m m e r c i a l , a n d , u n t i l t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e 1970's, c r i t i c s p e r s i s t e d i n e i t h e r i g n o r i n g Orton e n t i r e l y , o r i n r e g a r d i n g him as an amusing, b u t somewhat t r i v i a l playwright  "who o u t d i d a l l h i s c o n t e m p o r a r i e s  i n offending the t r a d i t i o n a l  3  West End a u d i e n c e . "  T h e r e i s no doubt t h a t t h e v i o l e n t manner o f Orton s  death ( h i s l o v e r Kenneth H a l l i w e l l beat h i s b r a i n s o u t w i t h a hammer and then committed s u i c i d e ) d i d l i t t l e t o i n c r e a s e h i s d r a m a t i c  reputation,  s i n c e t h e m a j o r i t y o f c r i t i c s were f a s c i n a t e d by t h e " p o e t i c j u s t i c e " o f t h i s e v e n t , and d i s r e g a r d e d t h e m a t e r i a l i n h i s p l a y s i n f a v o u r o f commenting on h i s e x c e p t i o n a l l y f l a m b o y a n t l i f e and d e a t h . i t i s important  that Orton's dramatic  Of course  c a r e e r was " c u t s h o r t by h i s own .  d e a t h , i n a manner r e m i n i s c e n t o f h i s own p l a y s , j u s t as i t i s i m p o r t a n t t o r e c o g n i s e t h a t O r t o n ' s p l a y s r e f l e c t h i s l i f e , and h i s v i s i o n o f t h e world.  The a m o r a l , v i c i o u s , c r u e l and e g o t i s t i c a l s o c i e t y d e p i c t e d  i n O r t o n ' s work r e a l l y d i d e x i s t f o r him; because o f h i s d i a r i e s , l e t t e r s and o t h e r w r i t i n g s we a r e a b l e t o s e e how h i s e x p e r i e n c e s into h i s plays. - 1 -  are translated  2  O r t o n l o v e d t o shock p e o p l e , i n h i s l i f e as much as i n h i s work. H i s b e h a v i o u r was o f t e n o u t r a g e o u s ; i n d e e d many o f h i s e x p l o i t s r e a d like potential playscripts.  He was an i n v e t e r a t e l e t t e r ^ w r i t e r , and h i s  f a v o u r i t e nom-de-plume was t h a t o f Edna Welthorpe  ( M r s . ) , an a l t e r ego  who p e r p e t u a t e d the s c a n d a l s u r r o u n d i n g h i s p l a y s by w r i t i n g condemnatory l e t t e r s t o the p r e s s .  Edna W e l t h o r p e ,  however, d i d n o t r e s t r i c t her  a c t i v i t i e s t o t a l k i n g about t h e t h e a t r e ; she m a i n t a i n e d a wide c i r c l e of correspondents, i n c l u d i n g a local v i c a r .  Her l e t t e r t o the manager  o f t h e R i t z H o t e l i n London i s an O r t o n c l a s s i c ; i t p r e s e n t s t h e v i s i o n o f c o r r u p t s o c i e t y and t h e d e s i r e t o shock the r e a d e r i n t o awareness t h a t we see i n O r t o n ' s dramas. Dear S i r , I had t e a i n y o u r p a l a t i a l e s t a b l i s h m e n t l a s t Wednesday. I must c o n g r a t u l a t e you on y o u r d e c o r . I was w i t h my f r i e n d Mrs. S u l l i v a n . Y o u ' l l remember h e r . She was t h e one i n t h e f u r c o a t . U n f o r t u n a t e l y I l e f t b e h i n d a brown Moroccan l e a t h e r handbag which c o n t a i n e d a Boots f o l d e r h o l d i n g snaps h o t s o f m y s e l f and Mrs. S u l l i v a n i n r i s q u e p o s e s . There was a l s o a p a i r o f g l o v e s made o f s t i c k y v e g e t a b l e m a t t e r . I f you c o u l d r e c o v e r t h e s e , Mrs. S u l l i v a n and I w i l l be enormously g r a t e f u l and r e l i e v e d . Yours s i n c e r e l y , Edna  Welthorpe^  O r t o n ' s own b e h a v i o u r i s e q u a l l y e v i d e n t i n h i s work.  His admittedly  amoral a t t i t u d e towards sex i s r e f l e c t e d i n such c h a r a c t e r s as S l o a n e i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e and Hal and Dennis i n L o o t .  John L a h r , i n  h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o O r t o n ' s c o l l e c t e d p l a y s , q u o t e s from O r t o n ' s to demonstrate fact.  t h a t a l l h i s t a l k a b o u t s e x u a l a d v e n t u r i n g was  Moreover,  diaries  indeed  t h e s e d i a r i e s show t h a t many o f t h e s i t u a t i o n s i n  a p l a y l i k e L o o t a r e based on r e a l i s t i c e x p e r i e n c e .  Although  Loot  was w r i t t e n -- and was i n f a c t b e i n g p e r f o r m e d -- a t t h e time o f O r t o n ' s  3  mother's d e a t h , many i n c i d e n t s c o n n e c t e d w i t h t h e c o r p s e , c o f f i n and f u n e r a l seem t o be u n c a n n i l y foreshadowed  by t h e p l a y .  As the c o r p s e i s d o w n s t a i r s i n t h e main l i v i n g room i t means g o i n g o u t o r w a t c h i n g t e l e v i s i o n w i t h d e a t h a t one's elbow. My f a t h e r , f u m b l i n g out o f bed i n the m i d d l e o f the n i g h t , bumped i n t o t h e c o f f i n and a l m o s t had the c o r p s e on t h e f l o o r . Peggy Ramsay s a i d how d r e a d f u l l y r e m i n i s c e n t o f L o o t i t a l l was.^ O r t o n was v e r y i n s i s t e n t t h a t h i s p l a y s were r e a l i t y , n o t f a n t a s y .  In  o r d e r t o impress t h i s p o i n t on the c a s t o f L o o t he k e p t h i s dead mother's f a l s e t e e t h and p r e s e n t e d them t o t h e a c t o r s . 'Here, I t h o u g h t y o u ' d l i k e t h e o r i g i n a l s . He s a i d , 'What. ' T e e t h , I s a i d . 'Whose?' he s a i d . 'My mum's,' I s a i d . He l o o k e d v e r y s i c k . 'You s e e , ' I s a i d , ' I t ' s o b v i o u s y o u ' r e not t h i n k i n g o f the e v e n t s o f t h e p l a y i n terms o f r e a l i t y i f a t h i n g a f f e c t s you l i k e t h a t . ' ° 1  1  1  Of c o u r s e , much o f t h e s a t i r e i n O r t o n ' s p l a y s , p a r t i c u l a r l y h i s b i t i n g s a t i r e a g a i n s t t h e p o l i c e , and a u t h o r i t y i n g e n e r a l , s p r u n g from h i s f e e l i n g o f b e i n g v i o l e n t l y p e r s e c u t e d by f i g u r e s o f a u t h o r i t y .  His  p r i s o n e x p e r i e n c e s (he was s e n t e n c e d t o s i x months i m p r i s o n m e n t  for  s t e a l i n g and d e f a c i n g l i b r a r y b o o k s ) , r e i n f o r c e d h i s a t t i t u d e s and opinions of society. B e f o r e I had been v a g u e l y c o n s c i o u s o f something r o t t e n somewhere: p r i s o n c r y s t a l l i s e d t h i s . The o l d whore s o c i e t y r e a l l y l i f t e d up her s k i r t s , and t h e s t e n c h was p r e t t y f o u l . ^ T h i s ' f o u l s t e n c h ' i s seen t h r o u g h o u t O r t o n ' s canon, but i s p r o b a b l y most n o t i c e a b l e i n the e a r l i e r p l a y s , and p a r t i c u l a r l y i n The R u f f i a n on the S t a i r which was w r i t t e n o n l y a few months a f t e r h i s r e l e a s e from j a i l . A f t e r t h e s c a n d a l s u r r o u n d i n g O r t o n ' s d e a t h had d i m i n i s h e d , a r e v i v a l o f i n t e r e s t i n h i s p l a y s took p l a c e .  A t t h i s t i m e , c r i t i c s began t o  4  note O r t o n ' s  importance,  a b i l i t y w i t h words.  but they r e s t r i c t e d t h e i r p r a i s e t o h i s amazing  His d e s i r e t o p o i n t o u t t h e c r u e l t y and  horror  o f s o c i e t y , and, perhaps most i m p o r t a n t o f a l l , h i s b r i l l i a n t  dramatisation  o f many c e n t r a l a t t i t u d e s o f t h e 1960's ( t h e narrow d i s t i n c t i o n between madness and s a n i t y , t h e a b n o r m a l i t y o f the term "normal," and t h e n i g h t m a r i s h , i s o l a t e d s i t u a t i o n o f man disregarded.  i n s o c i e t y ) have been a l m o s t  Many o f t h e s e i s s u e s d r a m a t i s e d  totally  by O r t o n and o t h e r p l a y -  w r i g h t s o f t h e p e r i o d a r e d i s c u s s e d i n p s y c h o l o g i c a l terms by R. D. L a i n g . Although  i t i s u n l i k e l y t h a t O r t o n had r e a d L a i n g , and thus h i s p l a y s  must on no a c c o u n t be c o n s i d e r e d as a mere d r a m a t i s a t i o n o f p s y c h o l o g i c a l t h e o r y , L a i n g c r y s t a l l i s e s and d e f i n e s the c o n c e p t s o f i s o l a t i o n  and  a l i e n a t i o n so p r e v a l e n t i n t h e drama o f t h i s t i m e . We a r e born i n t o a w o r l d where a l i e n a t i o n a w a i t s us. We a r e p o t e n t i a l l y men, but a r e i n an a l i e n a t e d s t a t e , and t h i s s t a t e i s n o t s i m p l y a n a t u r a l system. A l i e n a t i o n as our p r e s e n t d e s t i n y i s a c h i e v e d o n l y by o u t r a g e o u s v i o l e n c e p e r p e t r a t e d by human b e i n g s on human b e i n g s J O O r t o n ' s p l a y s p r e s e n t a v i s i o n o f t h i s w o r l d , an image o f a l i e n a t e d man.  In p a r t i c u l a r , h i s works a r e c o n c e r n e d w i t h v i o l e n c e :  violence,  however, does n o t e x i s t o n l y i n p h y s i c a l t e r m s ; i t i s f a r more e f f e c t i v e and more dangerous when i t t h r e a t e n s one's e m o t i o n s . V i o l e n c e attempts t o c o n s t r a i n t h e o t h e r ' s freedom, t o f o r c e him t o a c t i n t h e way we d e s i r e , but w i t h u l t i m a t e l a c k o f c o n c e r n , w i t h i n d i f f e r e n c e t o t h e o t h e r ' s own e x i s t e n c e of destiny. We a r e e f f e c t i v e l y d e s t r o y i n g o u r s e l v e s by v i o l e n c e m a s q u e r a d i n g as l o v e J l O r t o n ' s views c o i n c i d e w i t h L a i n g ' s s u g g e s t i o n t h a t v i o l e n c e i s a t i t s most dangerous when i t i s m a s q u e r a d i n g as s o m e t h i n g e l s e ; thus h i s f o c a l p o i n t s o f a t t a c k a r e i n s t i t u t i o n s (such as t h e Church and t h e p o l i c e ) w h i c h , w h i l e p r e t e n d i n g t h e i r c o n c e r n f o r mankind s p r i n g s  5  from l o v e and a d e s i r e f o r law and o r d e r , seek t h e power t o c o n t r o l men and d i r e c t t h e i r b e h a v i o u r .  Moreover the c a l l o u s i n d i f f e r e n c e o f  s o c i e t y troubles Orton g r e a t l y :  many o f h i s p l a y s deal w i t h man's  e s s e n t i a l l o n e l i n e s s i n t h e w o r l d ; t h e y show how human b e i n g s a r e t r e a t e d as m a c h i n e s , and d i s c a r d e d once they have o u t l i v e d t h e i r  usefulness.  O r t o n i s t h e r e f o r e f a r from b e i n g t h e l i g h t - h e a r t e d , o u t r a g e o u s s t y l i s t t h a t many have t h o u g h t him; he i s a s e r i o u s m o r a l i s t , a s o c i a l c r i t i c who d e m o l i s h e s many o f t h e f o u n d a t i o n s and e v i l l u r k i n g t h e r e .  of society to reveal the corruption  Of c o u r s e , i t would be a f a t a l e r r o r t o deny  the b r i l l i a n c e o f O r t o n ' s humour:  he a t t a c k s t h r o u g h l a u g h t e r ; h i s  s a t i r i c t h r u s t o f t e n seems t o make h i s p o i n t more f o r c e f u l l y . He mocks B r i t i s h j u s t i c e , d e s t r o y s t h e myth a b o u t t h e w o n d e r f u l E n g l i s h p o l i c e m a n in a marvellously  f u n n y p o r t r a i t o f an i n e p t , b u t c u r i o u s l y s i n i s t e r  d e t e c t i v e i n L o o t , c a s t s enormous doubt on t h e v a l i d i t y o f t h o s e who p r o f e s s t o be r e l i g i o u s ( o r even moral and g e n t e e l ) , by r e v e a l i n g t h e v a s t gap between t h e i r p r o t e s t a t i o n s and t h e i r a c t i o n s , and e f f e c t i v e l y diminishes  f i g u r e s o f a u t h o r i t y by showing t h e i r i n h u m a n i t y and s t u p i d i t y .  U n d e r l y i n g most o f t h i s s a t i r e , however, i s an e x t r a o r d i n a r y  exuberance,  a w i l l i n g n e s s t o laugh and a d e l i g h t i n t h e f o l l i e s and f o i b l e s o f mankind.  L i k e many modern p l a y w r i g h t s , O r t o n i s c o n c e r n e d w i t h s t r i p p i n g  away t h e l a y e r s , t a k i n g o f f t h e mask o f g e n t i l i t y t o s e e what l i e s beneath. discovers.  U n l i k e many w r i t e r s , however, he i s d e l i g h t e d by what he He has s a i d t h a t he f o u n d p e o p l e " p r o f o u n d l y  bad, but  1p  i r r e s i s t i b l y funny,"  and i n s i s t e d t h a t E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e ( a n d  p r e s u m a b l y h i s l a t e r p l a y s ) s h o u l d n o t be c a t e g o r i s e d w i t h w h a t e v e r  6  l a b e l was c u r r e n t l y  fashionable.  I t ' s j u s t a p l a y , w h i c h happens t o make p e o p l e laugh a b o u t sodomy and nymphomania. I t ' s a comedy i n s o f a r as t h e whole w o r l d and the whole human s i t u a t i o n i s comic and f a r c i c a l . ^ T h i s v i s i o n o f t h e human c o n d i t i o n as f a r c i c a l s u g g e s t s a l i n k between O r t o n ' s image o f s o c i e t y and t h a t e x p r e s s e d Theatre  of the Absurd.  by t h e d r a m a t i s t s  of the  However, i t would be an e r r o r t o p l a c e O r t o n  f i r m l y i n the t r a d i t i o n o f the A b s u r d .  As w i l l be s e e n , O r t o n ' s work  d e f i e s c a t e g o r i s a t i o n ; i t i s a f u s i o n o f many t r a d i t i o n s w h i c h r e f o r m s and r e v i s e s a l l p r e v i o u s i n f l u e n c e s t o c r e a t e an o r i g i n a l c o n t r i b u t i o n to modern drama. The two most g e n e r a l l y acknowledged i n f l u e n c e s on B r i t i s h drama o f the 1 9 6 0 s and 1  '70's  a r e B e r t o l t B r e c h t and t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d .  L a u r e n c e K i t c h i n , r e p h r a s i n g t h i s s t a t e m e n t i n more g e n e r a l  terms, states  t h a t the two dominant forms o f drama i n t h e 1960's were e p i c and ism.^  compression-  Whatever terms we use, however, i t i s c l e a r t h a t t h i s d i v i s i o n  o f i n f l u e n c e s c a n n o t be s a t i s f a c t o r i l y a p p l i e d t o O r t o n .  A t l e a s t one  o f h i s p l a y s (The Erpingham Camp) has a somewhat B r e c h t i a n o r e p i c structure; i t represents  a v e r s i o n o f the B r e c h t i a n P a r a b l e p l a y .  On  the o t h e r hand, l e s t we s h o u l d be i n c l i n e d t o deny the i n f l u e n c e o f the a b s u r d i s t s , many o f M a r t i n E s s l i n ' s comments on t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f the T h e a t r e o f the A b s u r d can (and i n d e e d , s h o u l d ) be a p p l i e d t o Orton. In the T h e a t r e o f the A b s u r d , t h e s p e c t a t o r i s c o n f r o n t e d w i t h t h e madness o f the human c o n d i t i o n , i s e n a b l e d t o see h i s s i t u a t i o n i n a l l i t s g r i m n e s s and d e s p a i r . S t r i p p e d o f i l l u s i o n s and v a g u e l y f e l t f e a r s and a n x i e t i e s , he can f a c e t h i s s i t u a t i o n c o n s c i o u s l y , r a t h e r than f e e l i n g i t v a g u e l y below a s u r f a c e o f euphemisms and o p t i m i s t i c i l l u s i o n s . By s e e i n g h i s a n x i e t i e s f o r m u l a t e d he can l i b e r a t e h i m s e l f f r o m  7  them . . . . I t i s t h e unease c a u s e d by t h e p r e s e n c e o f i l l u s i o n s t h a t a r e o b v i o u s l y o u t o f tune w i t h r e a l i t y t h a t i s d i s s o l v e d and d i s c h a r g e d t h r o u g h l i b e r a t i n g l a u g h t e r a t t h e r e c o g n i t i o n o f t h e fundamental a b s u r d i t y o f t h e u n i v e r s e . ^ A l t h o u g h O r t o n ' s w r i t i n g d e m o n s t r a t e s many o f t h e s e q u a l i t i e s , we must be c a r e f u l t o n o t e t h e ways i n which he d i f f e r s from t h e a b s u r d i s t s . I t a p p e a r s t h a t he has more i n common w i t h t h e p h i l o s o p h i e s o f S a r t r e and Camus ( b o t h o f whom, i n c i d e n t a l l y , wrote dramas i n " t r a d i t i o n a l " forms) than w i t h many o f t h e e x t e r n a l a s p e c t s o f a b s u r d drama. o f a b s u r d drama i s v e r y i m p o r t a n t :  The form  "the devaluation o r downright  t i o n o f l a n g u a g e , t h e d i s i n t e g r a t i o n o f p l o t , c h a r a c t e r , and f i n a l  dissolusolution  16 which had been t h e h a l l m a r k o f drama" o t h e r t y p e s o f drama.  d i s t i n g u i s h e s a b s u r d p l a y s from  C e r t a i n l y O r t o n does n o t conform t o t h e s e e x t e r n a l s ;  h i s language i s v i t a l l y i m p o r t a n t and i s honed t o a s h a r p b r i l l i a n c e , h i s p l o t i s complex and w e l 1 - c o n s t r u c t e d , t h e c h a r a c t e r s a r e t r a d i t i o n a l ( i n t h e sense o f having a c l e a r l y - d e f i n e d background, u n l i k e "absurd" c h a r a c t e r s ) , and a l l t h e p l a y s have a r e c o g n i s a b l e , and i n d e e d , e s s e n t i a l , climax.  The e f f e c t o f t h e a b s u r d i s t s , t h e r e f o r e , i s seen o n l y i n t h e i r  themes; i n a s i m i l a r manner, O r t o n a p p e a r s t o a c c e p t many o f A r t a u d ' s t h e o r i e s on t h e T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y ( c o n s i d e r e d by most c r i t i c s t o be a c e n t r a l s o u r c e f o r many a b s u r d d r a m a t i s t s ) , b u t does n o t f o l l o w h i s i d e a s on s t a g i n g o r p r e s e n t a t i o n . The t h e a t r e w i l l n e v e r f i n d i t s e l f a g a i n . . . . e x c e p t by furnishing the spectator with the truthful p r e c i p i t a t e o f dreams, i n which h i s t a s t e f o r c r i m e , h i s e r o t i c o b s e s s i o n s , h i s s a v a g e r y , h i s c h i m e r a s , h i s U t o p i a n s e n s e o f l i f e and m a t t e r , even h i s c a n n i b a l i s m pour o u t on a l e v e l n o t c o u n t e r f e i t and i l l u s o r y , b u t i n t e r i o r . ^ F a r from f o l l o w i n g A r t a u d ' s v i s i o n s o f a t h e a t r e o f B a l i n e s e d a n c e r s , and movement o f l i g h t and sound, O r t o n i n c o r p o r a t e d t h e s e t h e o r i e s i n t o  8  plays t r a d i t i o n a l i n form, indeed resembling  18th and 19th  comedies o f manners i n c o n s t r u c t i o n and s t y l e .  century  In p a r t i c u l a r h i s w i t  and manner i s p o l i s h e d and s p a r k l i n g ; he m e n t i o n s W i l d e , C o n g r e v e and Sheridan  as a u t h o r s whose s t y l e he a d m i r e s , and p r e s u m a b l y i s i n f l u e n c e d  by. S i n c e Orton was q u i t e s p e c i f i c a b o u t which w r i t e r s he a d m i r e d , t h e b e s t way  to d i s c u s s the t r a d i t i o n s a f f e c t i n g h i s work i s t o examine  t h o s e a u t h o r s he a d m i t s t o have been an i n f l u e n c e .  Among t h e s e  are  S w i f t , V o l t a i r e , Lewis C a r r o l l , S t r i n d b e r g , Ben T r a v e r s , B e c k e t t ,  Pinter  and W i l d e J 9 The v e r y . v a r i e t y and range o f t h e s e a u t h o r s t e s t i f i e s t o our i n a b i l i t y to c a t e g o r i s e Orton:  t h e e f f e c t o f V o l t a i r e and  Swift  i s seen i n h i s v i s i o n o f mankind and h i s b i t i n g s a t i r e ; t h e i n f l u e n c e o f Lewis C a r r o l l i s echoed by the d r e a m - l i k e ,  almost nightmarish q u a l i t i e s  o f some o f O r t o n ' s work, and, o f c o u r s e by t h e w o n d e r f u l l y  nonsensical  20 non-sequiturs  and o t h e r a s p e c t s o f h i s l a n g u a g e .  Strindberg s e f f e c t  on O r t o n ' s w r i t i n g i s h a r d e r to l o c a t e , p a r t i c u l a r l y s i n c e O r t o n the i m p o r t a n c e o f h i s l a t e r works l i k e The G h o s t S o n a t a .  stresses  Thus i t i s  n o t t h e S t r i n d b e r g i a n c o n f l i c t between t h e sexes t h a t Orton i s i n f l u e n c e d by ( a l t h o u g h t h e r e may  be v e s t i g e s o f t h i s i n The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r ,  E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e and What t h e B u t l e r Saw),  but t h e l a t e r S t r i n d b e r g ,  which i s a d i r e c t s o u r c e o f t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d i n i t s b r i l l i a n t 21 p o r t r a y a l o f dreams and o b s e s s i o n s . Martin E s s l i n ' s description of S t r i n d b e r g ' s methods i n The G h o s t S o n a t a -[He] m e r e l y t r a n s l a t e d the p s y c h o l o g i c a l s i t u a t i o n o f the c h i e f c h a r a c t e r o f a p l a y l i k e The F a t h e r i n t o a d i r e c t image o f h i s n i g h t m a r e s and o b s e s s i o n s ^ —  corresponds  d i r e c t l y to O r t o n ' s c o n c r e t i z a t i o n o f man's p s y c h o l o g i c a l  9  s t a t e i n the f a r c e o f Loot and What the B u t l e r Saw. presented  The d r a m a t i c v i s i o n  by t h e f r e n e t i c and f r a n t i c s c u r r y i n g o f the f a r c e e x p r e s s e s  man's n i g h t m a r e , h i s l o n e l i n e s s i n s o c i e t y and h i s i n a b i l i t y t o c o n t r o l any a s p e c t o f h i s l i f e o r b e h a v i o u r .  M o r e o v e r , and p e r h a p s more  The G h o s t S o n a t a i s an expose o f v i c i o u s n e s s and c o r r u p t i o n :  importantly,  i n the  c h a r a c t e r o f Hummel, S t r i n d b e r g d e m o n s t r a t e s the e v i l s o c i a l e f f e c t s o f man's d e s i r e f o r power; i n d e e d a l l the f i g u r e s a t the g h o s t s u p p e r a r e drawn t o g e t h e r b e c a u s e o f t h e i r w i c k e d and c r u e l b e h a v i o u r . between t h i s image o f s o c i e t y and t h a t p r e s e n t e d  The  connection  i n Orton's plays i s  clear. The i n c l u s i o n o f B e c k e t t and P i n t e r i n t h e l i s t o f i n f l u e n c e s t o the i m p o r t a n c e o f the T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d i n O r t o n ' s work. the e f f e c t o f P i n t e r can be seen d i r e c t l y i n O r t o n ' s e a r l y work. R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r has p a s s a g e s o f P i n t e r e s q u e  dialogue  testifies In a d d i t i o n , The  --  Wilson: Joyce:  ( s m i l i n g ) . I've come a b o u t the room. I'm a f r a i d t h e r e ' s been a m i s t a k e . I've n o t h i n g t o do w i t h a l l o t t i n g rooms. Make y o u r e n q u i r i e s e l s e w h e r e . Wilson: I'm n o t c o l o u r e d . I was b r o u g h t up i n the Home C o u n t i e s . J o y c e : T h a t d o e s n ' t r i n g a b e l l w i t h me, I'm a f r a i d " -- and E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e i s v e r y r e m i n i s c e n t and t o n e .  o f P i n t e r i n theme  In both c a s e s , however, the i n f l u e n c e o f P i n t e r i s t r a n s c e n d e d ,  p a r t l y b e c a u s e O r t o n p e r v e r t s the t y p i c a l P i n t e r s i t u a t i o n o f an  intruder  and two p e o p l e i n a room t h a t i s the b a s i s f o r t h e s e dramas, but m a i n l y because t h e s t y l e , t h e humour, and,  despite  a  hint  o f P i n t e r , the l a n g u a g e i s u n m i s t a k e a b l y o r i g i n a l .  I t i s only i n Orton's  " r e a l i s t i c " dramas t h a t t h e e f f e c t o f P i n t e r can be s e e n ; i n h i s l a t e r , more f a r c i c a l work t h i s i n f l u e n c e has c o m p l e t e l y  disappeared.  10  O r t o n ' s drama can be d i v i d e d i n t o two p e r i o d s :  his early plays  (The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r , E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e and The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t ) which are p r i m a r i l y comedies o f l a n g u a g e ,  and h i s  l a t e r , p r i m a r i l y f a r c i c a l works ( L o o t , The Erpingham Camp, F u n e r a l Games and What t h e B u t l e r Saw).  I t i s , o f c o u r s e , t h i s l a t t e r group w h i c h  shows t h e e f f e c t o f h i s a d m i r a t i o n f o r Ben T r a v e r s .  O r t o n has done much OA  to d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t " f a r c e i s t h e most s e r i o u s o f a l l a r t Indeed, he has e x t e n d e d and d e v e l o p e d  the boundaries  forms."  o f f a r c e to present  an image o f man as a v i c t i m o f s o c i e t y . In f a r c e , p e o p l e a r e v i c t i m s o f t h e i r momentum. S u r v i v a l and i d e n t i t y a r e a t s t a k e . . . . The body and mind a r e p u l v e r i s e d i n t h e i r p u r s u i t o f o r d e r . Unheeding and f r a n t i c , c h a r a c t e r s rebound o f f one a n o t h e r , g r o p i n g f o r s a f e t y . 2 5 Once a g a i n , t h i s v i s i o n c o r r e s p o n d s  to t h a t o f R. D. L a i n g .  In h i s book  The D i v i d e d S e l f , L a i n g shows how an " o n t o l o g i c a l l y i n s e c u r e "  person,  a man w i t h o u t s u f f i c i e n t sense o f h i m s e l f to m i t i g a t e t h e d e s p a i r , t e r r o r and boredom o f e x i s t e n c e , o f t e n f e e l s he has no r e a l i d e n t i t y . The body i s f e l t more as an o b j e c t among o t h e r o b j e c t s i n t h e w o r l d than as t h e c o r e o f the i n d i v i d u a l ' s b e i n g . L a i n g a l s o d e m o n s t r a t e s how a person i n t h i s p o s i t i o n may f e e l i n t o a body and a mind:  "split"  O r t o n ' s p l a y s show t h e body as somehow d i s c o n n e c t e d  from t h e mind; t h e body undergoes a p l e t h o r a o f u n d i g n i f i e d e x p e r i e n c e s through i m p u l s e , n o t through r a t i o n a l t h o u g h t .  Thus f a r c e i s used  to r e p r e s e n t and emphasise t h e s c h i z o p h r e n i c b e h a v i o u r o f man society.  i n modern  T h i s b e h a v i o u r i s a d i r e c t o u t g r o w t h o f t h e r e p r e s s i o n and  v i o l e n c e f o r c e d on mankind; man o f s o c i e t y , and by so d o i n g , may s i t u a t i o n resembling  f e e l s compelled  to c o n f o r m t o t h e "norms"  t w i s t and p e r v e r t h i s c h a r a c t e r t o a  schizophrenia.  The g e n e r a l i n f l u e n c e o f Ben  Travers,  11  the most p r o l i f i c and b e s t w r i t e r o f f a r c e s i n t h e t w e n t i e t h i s e v i d e n t i n Orton's f a r c e form.  century,  recognition o f the inherent p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the  A more s p e c i f i c i n f l u e n c e may be seen i n t h e a m o r a l i t y ,  g r e e d and c o r r u p t i o n o f many o f T r a v e r s ' c h a r a c t e r s , who seem t o p r e f i g u r e t h e s e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n O r t o n ' s drama.  I t i s p r o b a b l y no c o i n c i d e n c e ,  t h e r e f o r e , t h a t Orton's f i r s t f u l l - f l e d g e d f a r c e s h o u l d be c a l l e d L o o t , w h i l e one o f T r a v e r s ' b e s t known p l a y s (and p e r h a p s t h e one t h a t p r e s e n t s the c l e a r e s t p i c t u r e o f t h e a m o r a l , g r e e d y , s t a t u s - s e e k i n g s o c i e t y ) , is entitled  Plunder.  The f i n a l , and c e r t a i n l y most o b v i o u s , i n f l u e n c e on O r t o n i s t h a t of Oscar Wilde.  I t i s by now a c r i t i c a l commonplace t o p r a i s e  Orton's  b r i l l i a n t l y a c c u r a t e e a r f o r l a n g u a g e and t o compare h i s w o n d e r f u l l y w i t t y e p i g r a m s and g l i t t e r i n g s t y l e w i t h t h a t o f W i l d e . points o f comparison e x i s t :  C e r t a i n l y these  Ronald Bryden r i g h t l y dubbed O r t o n " t h e 27  Oscar Wilde o f Welfare State g e n t i l i t y , "  and p o i n t e d o u t t h a t h i s  drama must be c o n s i d e r e d as i f t h e l a n g u a g e , the supreme i n g r e d i e n t . Wilde.  r a t h e r than t h e p l o t were  T h i s l a t t e r p o i n t compares v e r y c l o s e l y t o  In a p l a y l i k e The Importance o f B e i n g E a r n e s t , t h e p l o t i s  a b s u r d , b u t t h e d i a l o g u e comments on l i f e .  W i l d e ' s p l o t s and c h a r a c t e r s  a r e c o m i c ; however as E r i c B e n t l e y a c c u r a t e l y p o i n t s o u t , h i s w i t t i c i s m s " a r e n o t comic b u t s e r i o u s r e l i e f .  They a r e i n i r o n i c  counterpoint  28  with the a b s u r d i t i e s o f the a c t i o n . "  This perceptive i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  can e q u a l l y be a p p l i e d t o O r t o n ' s methods. i n t h e p l o t , b u t i n t h e language.  The s a t i r e i s n o t embedded  Thus, i n Loot, the p l o t i s a l i g h t -  h e a r t e d parody o f d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n , b u t t h e v e r b a l w i t p r o v i d e s a d e v a s t a t i n g a t t a c k on B r i t i s h j u s t i c e .  12  Fay: You must prove me g u i l t y . T h a t i s t h e law. T r u s c o t t : You know n o t h i n g o f t h e law. I know n o t h i n g o f ~g t h e law. T h a t makes us e q u a l i n t h e s i g h t o f t h e law. In a d d i t i o n , B e n t l e y ' s comments about t h e e f f e c t o f t h e s a t i r e i n The Importance o f B e i n g E a r n e s t p r o v i d e an i l l u m i n a t i o n o f t h e r e a s o n f o r many c r i t i c s ' m i s c o n c e p t i o n s o f O r t o n .  Bentley maintains that the play  is f o r e v e r on t h e f r o n t i e r o r s a t i r e , f o r e v e r on t h e p o i n t o f b r e a k i n g i n t o b i t t e r c r i t i c i s m . I t n e v e r b r e a k s . The r i d i c u l o u s a c t i o n c o n s t a n t l y steps i n to a v o i d the break.30 O r t o n ' s p l a y s a r e c o n s t r u c t e d i n a s i m i l a r manner, a l t h o u g h sometimes t h e c r i t i c i s m does break t h r o u g h and d i s t u r b t h e b a l a n c e o f t h e p l a y . T h i s i s o n l y momentary however; t h e s t r u c t u r e o f t h e p l a y s h a k e s , but t h e n t h e l u d i c r o u s b e h a v i o u r o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s p r e v e n t s t h e drama from toppling over completely into b i t t e r d i a t r i b e .  Many c r i t i c s have d i s r e g a r d e d  t h e s e r i o u s a s p e c t s o f both W i l d e and O r t o n ; t h e y have been m i s l e d by the w i t and f a r c e i n t o n e g l e c t i n g t h e s e r i o u s t o n e beneath t h e l a u g h t e r and thus m i s i n t e r p r e t i n g t h e s e a u t h o r s . A d i r e c t Wildean i n f l u e n c e can be seen t h r o u g h o u t O r t o n ' s  language.  Both a u t h o r s make e f f e c t i v e use o f t h e e p i g r a m as an i n s t r u m e n t o f moral anarchy.  T h i s d e v i c e p r e s e n t s a c o n v e n t i o n a l image o f s o c i e t y , but  i n t r o d u c e s a s l i g h t change i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l w o r d i n g so t h a t t h e moral tone i s p e r v e r t e d o r even c o m p l e t e l y r e v e r s e d .  Thus W i l d e ' s  epigram, 3  " L i f e ' s aim, i f i t has one, i s s i m p l y t o be always l o o k i n g f o r t e m p t a t i o n s , " compares w i t h O r t o n ' s The t h e f t o f an a r t i c l e o f c l o t h i n g i s e x c u s a b l e . But p o l i c e m e n , l i k e r e d s q u i r r e l s , must be p r o t e c t e d . 3 2 In both c a s e s t h e s t a t e m e n t a p p e a r s a t f i r s t t o be r e a s o n a b l e , y e t both  13  e p i g r a m s , i n d i f f e r e n t ways, p e r v e r t t h e moral u n i v e r s e o f t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e plays.  W i l d e c r e a t e s a v i s i o n o f a m o r a l i t y ; one would e x p e c t l i f e t o  be a p e r p e t u a l a v o i d a n c e o f t e m p t a t i o n , r a t h e r than a c o n t i n u a l s e a r c h for i t .  O r t o n , by r e d u c i n g t h e p o l i c e f o r c e t o t h e l e v e l o f an e n d a n g e r e d  s p e c i e s , and moreover t o a s p e c i e s o f r o d e n t s , b r i l l i a n t l y d i m i n i s h e s i t s w o r t h and even humanity.  M o r e o v e r , on s e v e r a l o c c a s i o n s , O r t o n  seems d e l i b e r a t e l y t o i n v o k e echoes o f W i l d e .  Gwendolyn's demand f o r a  p r o p o s a l i n The Importance o f B e i n g E a r n e s t -And t o s p a r e y o u any p o s s i b l e d i s a p p o i n t m e n t , Mr. W o r t h i n g , I t h i n k i t o n l y f a i r t o t e l l you q u i t e f r a n k l y b e f o r e h a n d t h a t I am f u l l y d e t e r m i n e d t o a c c e p t you^ -- i s d i r e c t l y echoed by Fay's r e q u e s t t o McLeavy. Go ahead. Ask me t o marry y o u . I've no i n t e n t i o n o f r e f u s i n g . On y o u r knees. I'm a g r e a t b e l i e v e r i n t r a d i t i o n a l " p o s i t i o n s . O r t o n goes beyond W i l d e i n t h i s example, f o r t h e d o u b l e - e n t e n d r e o f " t r a d i t i o n a l p o s i t i o n s " has echoes o f W y c h e r l e y and o t h e r R e s t o r a t i o n comic d r a m a t i s t s . O r t o n n o t o n l y models h i s s t y l i s t i c d e v i c e s o f l a n g u a g e on W i l d e , but  he a l s o uses W i l d e ' s work  as a b a s i s f o r c o m p l e t e s c e n e s .  The o p e n i n g  i n t e r v i e w between Dr. P r e n t i c e and G e r a l d i n e i n What t h e B u t l e r Saw a p p e a r s t o have been d e r i v e d d i r e c t l y from Lady B r a c k n e l l ' s i n t e r r o g a t i o n o f J a c k W o r t h i n g i n The Importance o f B e i n g E a r n e s t .  The s e x e s have been  r e v e r s e d i n O r t o n ' s p l a y , and o f c o u r s e t h e s i t u a t i o n has changed, but the  s a l i e n t f e a t u r e s o f the scene, i n c l u d i n g the questions about parents  and t h e use o f n o t e - t a k i n g , a r e i d e n t i c a l i n each p l a y . One o t h e r p l a y w r i g h t who may be s a i d t o have had an i n d i r e c t e f f e c t on O r t o n i s Shaw.  One o f O r t o n ' s t r a d e m a r k s o f l a n g u a g e i s h i s wonder-  f u l l y f u n n y m i x t u r e o f e l e g a n c e and c o a r s e n e s s ; he a d m i t t e d t h a t he  14  f o u n d a m i x t u r e o f g e n t i l i t y and c r u d e n e s s i r r e s i s t i b l y f u n n y .  This  comment c a l l s t o mind one o f t h e c l a s s i c comedy s c e n e s i n E n g l i s h drama: the t e a - p a r t y i n P y g m a l i o n .  E l i z a ' s a t t e m p t s a t t h e "new  small-talk"  and h e r w o e f u l l a p s e s i n t o p h r a s e s such as " I t ' s my b e l i e f t h e y done h e r i n , " may w e l l have i n f l u e n c e d O r t o n i n some manner. O r t o n ' s use o f l a n g u a g e i s p r o b a b l y t h e most i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f h i s work.  He c o n c e i v e d o f words as weapons; h i s n o v e l Head t o Toe d e s c r i b e s  e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n w i t h words i n an a t t e m p t t o f i n d t h e most e f f e c t i v e and l e t h a l c o m b i n a t i o n s .  His technique i s very well expressed in t h i s  p a s s a g e , p a r t i c u l a r l y h i s r e a s o n s f o r w r i t i n g p l a y s r a t h e r than n o v e l s : the e f f e c t o f t h e spoken word i s f a r g r e a t e r than t h a t o f t h e w r i t t e n phrase. He t h o u g h t o f a book. B u t t h a t was no use . . . . To be d e s t r u c t i v e , words had t o be i r r e f u t a b l e . And t h e n t h e book m i g h t n o t be r e a d . He was aware t h a t words and s e n t e n c e s o f t e n b u r i e d t h e m s e l v e s i n t o r e a d e r s ' minds b e f o r e e x p l o d i n g and t h e n went o f f h a r m l e s s l y . P r i n t was l e s s e f f e c t i v e t h a n the spoken word becuase t h e b l a s t was g r e a t e r ; eyes c o u l d i g n o r e , s l i d e p a s t , dangerous v e r b s o r nouns. B u t i f y o u c o u l d l o c k t h e enemy i n t o a room somewhere and f i r e t h e s e n t e n c e ^ t them you would g e t a s o r t o f s e i s m i c d i s t u r b a n c e Language i s used f o r m a n i f o l d p u r p o s e s i n O r t o n ' s p l a y s .  H i s use o f  the e p i g r a m shows t h e p e r v e r s i o n o f s o c i e t y , t h e l a c k o f communication among men i s d e m o n s t r a t e d by a number o f d i s l o c a t e d exchanges i n which the r e p l y a p p e a r s t o t a l l y u n r e l a t e d t o t h e q u e s t i o n ; t h e h y p o c r i s y and f a l s e g e n t i l i t y o f mankind i s d e l i g h t f u l l y s a t i r i s e d by h i s b r i l l i a n t ear f o r d i a l o g u e , and t h e l a n g u a g e o f modern s o c i e t y , t h e j a r g o n o f newspapers, t e l e v i s i o n and a d v e r t i s i n g i s a c c u r a t e l y and e f f e c t i v e l y reproduced.  These and o t h e r uses o f l a n g u a g e w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n  d e t a i l f o r each p l a y .  15  O r t o n ' s a c h i e v e m e n t can be summed up i n two main a r e a s : t i o n o f f a r c e and h i s w o n d e r f u l use o f l a n g u a g e . not to f o r g e t h i s s u b j e c t matter:  h i s rejuvena-  However, i t i s i m p o r t a n t  Orton s a t i r i s e d taboo s u b j e c t s , death,  r e l i g i o n , s e x u a l i t y and t h a t acme o f s a c r e d n e s s , t h e B r i t i s h p o l i c e m a n . The f a r c i c a l t r e a t m e n t o f t h e s e t o p i c s c a n be c a t e g o r i s e d as a new s u b d i v i s i o n o f drama:  B l a c k Comedy.  O r t o n was one o f t h e b e s t w r i t e r s  o f B l a c k Comedy i n B r i t a i n i n t h e 1960's, and i f n o t t h e f i r s t a u t h o r to w r i t e i n t h i s v e i n , was p r o b a b l y t h e p l a y w r i g h t who d i d most t o r e f i n e and d e f i n e t h e g e n r e .  The wide range o f i n f l u e n c e s which a r e f o u n d  i n h i s work have been b r i e f l y d i s c u s s e d h e r e ; t h e c o n c l u s i o n t o t h i s t h e s i s w i l l d i s c u s s t h e genre o f B l a c k Comedy and d e m o n s t r a t e how O r t o n h i m s e l f i n f l u e n c e d t h e c o u r s e o f B r i t i s h drama i n t h e l a t e 1960's and early  1970's.  CHAPTER  II  The t h r e e p l a y s d i s c u s s e d i n t h i s c h a p t e r a r e O r t o n ' s e a r l i e s t work. The b a s i s f o r t h e i r g r o u p i n g also s t y l i s t i c .  i s n o t m e r e l y c h r o n o l o g i c a l , however; i t i s  T h e s e p l a y s can be c l a s s i f i e d as "comedies o f l a n g u a g e , "  dramas w h i c h a r e b a s i c a l l y r e a l i s t i c i n tone and c o n t e n t .  This  d i s t i n g u i s h e s them f r o m O r t o n ' s l a t e r , more f a r c i c a l , p l a y s .  realism  Although  O r t o n found h i s m e t i e r as a f a r c e u r and d i d much o f h i s b e s t work i n t h a t g e n r e , t h e s e e a r l y p l a y s s h o u l d n o t be n e g l e c t e d . as f o r e r u n n e r s  They a r e i n t e r e s t i n g  o f h i s l a t e r work, s i n c e we see a g r a d u a l movement towards  f a r c e , an e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n  w i t h a s p e c t s o f the f o r m .  Moreover, a l l three  p l a y s , but E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e i n p a r t i c u l a r , a r e w o r t h s t u d y i n g t h e i r own  right.  in  E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e (and t o a l e s s e r d e g r e e , The  R u f f i a n on the S t a i r and The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t ) i s a b r i l l i a n t l y w i t t y comedy o f manners; the l a n g u a g e c a p t u r e s  the e s s e n c e o f l o w e r - m i d d l e  c l a s s g e n t i l i t y , y e t t h e t h r u s t o f t h e p l a y u n c o v e r s the u g l y f o r c e s o f g r e e d and r u t h l e s s n e s s  t h a t operate beneath t h i s s u r f a c e .  Entertaining  Mr. S l o a n e shows the g r e e d o f s o c i e t y ; the s a t i r e o f The R u f f i a n on S t a i r f o c u s e s on man's l o n e l i n e s s i n an i n d i f f e r e n t w o r l d , t h a t o f Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t d e a l s w i t h a u t h o r i t y .  In a l l t h r e e p l a y s  the The (and  indeed, throughout Orton's work), hypocrisy of every kind i s attacked; the mask o f s o c i a l c o n f o r m i t y  i s r i p p e d o f f t o r e v e a l the b a s i c a n i m a l  c r u e l t y , o r , a t the v e r y l e a s t , e g o t i s t i c a l i n d i f f e r e n c e , o f  -  16  -  man.  17  The g r a d u a l movement towards f a r c e i n t h e s e dramas b e g i n s i n t h e f i n a l a c t o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e .  Here t h e a c t i o n t e e t e r s on t h e  b r i n k o f f a r c e as Kath's f a l s e t e e t h a r e knocked o u t i n h e r s t r u g g l e with Sloane. Kath:  My t e e t h ! (She c l a p s a hand o v e r h e r mouth). My t e e t h . ( S l o a n e f l i n g s her from him. She c r a w l s round t h e f l o o r , s e a r c h i n g ) . He's broke my t e e t h ! Where a r e t h e / P  The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t d e v e l o p s t h i s movement by d w e l l i n g on Buchanan's need f o r f a l s e l i m b s .  O r t o n wrote f a r c e s because he f o u n d i n t h e genre  a means o f v i s u a l 1 y c r e a t i n g t h e image o f a n a r c h y t h a t h i s language p o r t r a y e d so w e l l .  Thus, Buchanan's a r t i f i c i a l a t t a c h m e n t s a c t as a v i s u a l m a n i f e s t a -  t i o n o f h i s g r a d u a l decay and imminent c o l l a p s e . O r t o n foreshadows  Loot  i n h i s r e d u c t i o n o f man t o a s e r i e s o f a p p l i a n c e s . E d i t h : Your arms! Where has t h e e x t r a one come from? Buchanan: I t ' s f a l s e . E d i t h : Thank God f o r t h a t . I l i k e t o know where I s t a n d i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e number o f l i m b s a man has.2 The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r , a l t h o u g h o r i g i n a l l y w r i t t e n b e f o r e t h e o t h e r two p l a y s , was r e v i s e d l a t e r , and so p r e s e n t s even more f a r c i c a l i n g r e d i e n t s , f o r example J o y c e ' s r e a c t i o n t o W i l s o n ' s d e a t h . Wilson: .... coughs, b l o o d s p u r t s f r o m h i s mouth Am I d y i n g ? I t h i n k . . . Oh . . . He f a l I s f o r w a r d . S i 1ence. J o y c e : He's f a i n t e d , (p. 42)  ....  A l t h o u g h t h e g r a d u a l growth o f f a r c e i s i n t e r e s t i n g , t h e s e p l a y s a r e most i m p o r t a n t f o r t h e i r use o f l a n g u a g e . Mr. S l o a n e i s o u t s t a n d i n g .  Once a g a i n , E n t e r t a i n i n g  In t h i s p l a y O r t o n c e r t a i n l y d e s e r v e s h i s  s o u b r i q u e t o f "the O s c a r W i l d e o f W e l f a r e S t a t e g e n t i l i t y " ; t h e p l a y g l i t t e r s with p o e t i c , y e t l u d i c r o u s language.  P h r a s e s l i k e "The a i r  a r o u n d Twickenham was l i k e wine," show t h e r i d i c u l o u s e l e v a t i o n o f man's  18  pretensions.  Orton b r i l l i a n t l y c a p t u r e s t h e nuances o f t h i s shabby g e n t i l i t y ;  his c h a r a c t e r s reveal t h e i r darkest s e c r e t s through  euphemistic  phrases,  thus t h e humour e x i s t s i n the d i s c r e p a n c y between r e a l i t y and t h e i r s e l f c o n c e i v e d images o f p r o p r i e t y .  In a d d i t i o n , o f c o u r s e , a l l O r t o n ' s dramas  d e m o n s t r a t e t h e d i s l o c a t i o n between word and a c t i o n ; t h e deeds o f h i s c h a r a c t e r s show t h e i r t r u e n a t u r e , but t h e y p e r s i s t i n m a i n t a i n i n g a p p e a r a n c e o f e l e g a n c e and  an  morality.  D e s p i t e a c e r t a i n s i m i l a r i t y o f s u b j e c t m a t t e r and t r e a t m e n t , a m i s t a k e to d i s c u s s t h e s e p l a y s g e n e r a l l y .  i t is  O r t o n ' s w i t , use o f l a n g u a g e ,  and s p e c i f i c o b j e c t s o f s a t i r i c a t t a c k can b e s t be examined by an i n d i v i d u a l a n a l y s i s o f each p l a y .  The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r was t h e f i r s t p l a y O r t o n w r o t e on h i s r e l e a s e f r o m p r i s o n , and was,  i n f a c t , h i s f i r s t work t o be a c c e p t e d  p u b l i c p e r f o r m a n c e (as a r a d i o p l a y on t h e BBC), a l t h o u g h broadcast  u n t i l A u g u s t 1964,  Mr. S l o a n e .  i t was  for  not  a few months a f t e r t h e s u c c e s s o f E n t e r t a i n i n g  The p l a y was p e r f o r m e d a g a i n , i n a s u b s t a n t i a l l y r e v i s e d  v e r s i o n , as h a l f o f a d o u b l e - b i l l e n t i t l e d Crimes o f P a s s i o n a t t h e C o u r t T h e a t r e i n June 1967.  In t h i s d i s c u s s i o n t h e t e x t under c o n s i d e r a -  t i o n i s that of the stage play, which, i t i s g e n e r a l l y agreed, a s i g n i f i c a n t improvement o v e r t h e r a d i o v e r s i o n . noted the p l a y ' s i n d e b t e d n e s s  Royal  to P i n t e r .  represents  Many c r i t i c s have  While t h i s i n f l u e n c e i s r e t a i n e d  even i n the r e v i s e d v e r s i o n , t h e o r i g i n a l was n o t o n l y P i n t e r e s q u e  i n idea  and s i t u a t i o n , but a l s o i n d i a l o g u e . Wilson: Joyce: Wilson: Joyce:  I've come a b o u t t h e room. What room? D i d n ' t you a d v e r t i s e ? In t h e shop down t h e r o a d ? Who s e n t you?  19  Wilson: Joyce: Wilson: Joyce:  I saw t h e c a r d i n t h e window. You must have made a m i s t a k e . Didn't you a d v e r t i s e ? I've g o t t h e wrong a d d r e s s ? We've no room.3 ,  The o v e r t o n e s o f menace and i n t r u s i o n i n t h i s p a s s a g e a r e , o f c o u r s e , d e r i v e d f r o m P i n t e r , and t h e whole i n t e r c h a n g e  i s very reminiscent o f h i s  p l a y , The Room. Mr. Sands: W e l l , we'd b e t t e r t r y t o g e t h o l d o f t h i s l a n d l o r d i f he's a b o u t . Rose: You won't f i n d any rooms v a c a n t i n t h i s house. Mr. Sands: Why n o t ? Rose: Mr. Kidd t o l d me. He t o l d me. Mr. Sands: Mr. Kidd? Rose: He t o l d me he was f u l l up.4 The p l o t s o f t h e s e two p l a y s seem, a t f i r s t , r e m a r k a b l y s i m i l a r ; however O r t o n ' s p l a y d e v e l o p s i n a v e r y d i f f e r e n t manner.  In The Room c a u s e  and e f f e c t a r e n o t c l e a r l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d ; m o r e o v e r we a r e n e v e r r e a l l y c e r t a i n as t o t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p between Rose ( o r S a l ? ) and R i l e y , n o r o f the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f Mr. and M r s . Sands.  The R u f f i a n onv'the S t a i r , on  the o t h e r hand, has a h i g h l y d e v e l o p e d and c l e a r l y o r g a n i s e d  plot:  W i l s o n ' s s e a r c h f o r a room i s seen t o be p a r t o f a complex r e v e n g e p l a n . Nevertheless,  and d e s p i t e O r t o n ' s r e v i s i o n s t o t h e t e x t , t h e p l a y , on  a f i r s t r e a d i n g a t l e a s t , a p p e a r s " d e r i v a t i v e o f P i n t e r as a w h o l e . A d e e p e r a n a l y s i s o f The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r d e m o n s t r a t e s O r t o n ' s originality.  C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen p o i n t s o u t t h a t O r t o n does n o t i m i t a t e  Pinter b l i n d l y , but inverts Pinter's dramatic tension. in a reversal o f the t y p i c a l Pinter s i t u a t i o n :  This r e s u l t s  t h e i n t r u d e r becomes t h e  victim. Es i s t w i e d e r h o l t bemerkt worden, d a s s d i e b e i d e n Anfangsdramen O r t o n s noch d e u t l i c h e P i n t e r - E i n f l u s s e z e i g t e n , d i e S t i l p r i n z i p i e n von d e s s e n "comedy o f menace" nachahmten. Es i s t dabei j e d o c h u b e r s e h e n worden, dass s i c h sowohl i n " R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r " w i e i n " E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e " schon e i n e  20  s u b t i l e Umkehrung d e r P i n t e r s c h e n U r s i t u a t i o n des E i n d r i n g e n s d u n k l e r , d r o h e n d e r m y s t i f i z i e r t e r Macht i n einem bewohnten Raum v o l l z i e g t . 6 T h i s p o i n t i s o n l y p a r t i a l l y c o r r e c t s i n c e we c a n n o t c l a s s i f y W i l s o n Sloane together. Wilson's Story,  7  S l o a n e i s t r u l y t h e i n t r u d e r who  behaviour,  and  becomes t h e v i c t i m ;  however, i s a n a l o g o u s t o J e r r y ' s i n A l b e e ' s The  Zoo  s i n c e he, t h e i n t e n d e d v i c t i m , i s i n c o n t r o l o f t h e s i t u a t i o n .  L i k e J e r r y , W i l s o n e x e r t s h i s w i l l and c u n n i n g on h i s k i l l e r , who  merely  acts out h i s s u i c i d a l tendencies. John L a h r t a k e s t h i s a n a l y s i s one s t e p f u r t h e r . O r t o n i s a t t a c k i n g "the m e l o d r a m a t i c c o n v e n t i o n s  He m a i n t a i n s  that  o f modern ' s e r i o u s  t h e a t e r ' (and t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s ) . " ^ T h i s comment i s i l l u m i n a t e d by John R u s s e l l T a y l o r who  states that Orton's i n t r i c a t e p l o t s "create a 9  c r i t i c a l d i s t a n c e between p l a y and s p e c t a t o r . "  O r t o n uses h i s p l o t s  as a d e l i b e r a t e mechanism t o d i s t a n c e the a u d i e n c e and t o e n a b l e to view h i s t r e a t m e n t  o f s o c i e t y as o b j e c t i v e l y as p o s s i b l e .  s e n s e he does a t t a c k modern t h e a t r i c a l c o n v e n t i o n s , L a h r seems t o s u g g e s t , methods -- p a r o d y .  them  In t h i s  not o v e r t l y , as  Mr.  but by t h a t most i n s i d i o u s and d e v a s t a t i n g o f a l l  The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r p a r o d i e s t h e "comedy o f  menace" by r e d u c i n g the t h r e a t s and f e a r s i n h e r e n t i n t h i s g e n r e t o absurdity.  We need o n l y r e a d t h e f i n a l l i n e s o f t h e p l a y t o r e a l i s e t h i s  f a r c i c a l treatment. sheet-covered  Joyce completely  i g n o r e s t h e dead W i l s o n , whose  c o r p s e d o m i n a t e s t h e s t a g e , and bemoans t h e a c c i d e n t a l  death o f her g o l d f i s h . Joyce: Mike:  T h e y ' r e dead. Poor t h i n g s . And I r e a r e d them so c a r e f u l l y . And w h i l e a l l t h i s was g o i n g on t h e y d i e d . S i t down. I ' l l f e t c h t h e p o l i c e . T h i s has been a crime o f p a s s i o n . T h e y ' l l u n d e r s t a n d . They have w i v e s and g o l d f i s h o f t h e i r own. (p. 43)  21  I t s h o u l d be n o t e d t h a t t h i s l i g h t - h e a r t e d t r e a t m e n t emphasises t h e themes o f t h e p l a y :  one o f  s o c i e t y ' s d i s r e g a r d f o r i n d i v i d u a l s (which l e a d s  to t h e n e g a t i o n o f t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f human l i f e ) .  In O r t o n ' s  view,  s o c i e t y i s more c o n c e r n e d w i t h i n a n i m a t e t r i v i a such as g o l d f i s h , o r w i t h s u p e r f i c i a l pomp and c i r c u m s t a n c e , as e x e m p l i f i e d by t h e B r i t i s h L e g i o n , than w i t h human b e i n g s . The Royal F a m i l y were o u t i n f u l l f o r c e . F u r s and g a r t e r s f l y i n g . My o l d man was i n i t . He c o u l d n ' t come t o the f u n e r a l because he was on t h e B r i t i s h L e g i o n f l o a t . He r e p r e s e n t e d something . . . He t h o u g h t more o f t a r t i n g h i m s e l f up than b u r y i n g h i s son. (p. 40) The R u f f i a n on the S t a i r p r e s e n t s O r t o n ' s most v i c i o u s view o f society.  S i n c e t h e p l a y was w r i t t e n o n l y a few months a f t e r h i s r e l e a s e  from p r i s o n , we can i d e n t i f y t h e r e a s o n f o r much o f h i s b i t t e r n e s s . O r t o n has spoken o f how imprisonment  c r y s t a l l i s e d h i s a t t i t u d e s towards  the r o t t e n a s p e c t s o f s o c i e t y : ^ i n h i s l a t e r p l a y s t h i s v i c i o u s v i s i o n i s c o v e r e d by a zany humour; here much o f t h e s o c i a l comment i s l e f t bare.  Thus, a l t h o u g h t h e p l a y may parody v a r i o u s t h e a t r i c a l s t y l e s , t h e  content o f the play i s a s e r i o u s a t t a c k .  The most r e v e a l i n g comments  aboutthis s o c i e t y surround the c h a r a c t e r of Joyce.  Her i s o l a t i o n and  complete l o n e l i n e s s , h e r l a c k o f any s o l a c e f r o m f r i e n d s h i p and r e l i g i o n , and above a l l , h e r t o t a l h o r r o r , a r e e x c e p t i o n a l l y s t r o n g images f o r man's u n s t a b l e p o s i t i o n i n t h e w o r l d . I c a n ' t be as a l o n e as a l l t h a t . I t ' s h e a r t b r e a k i n g , (p. 21) Orton demonstrates  Nobody ought t o be.  t h e l a c k o f human c o n t a c t w i t h d e v a s t a t i n g c l a r i t y .  J o y c e i s i m p r i s o n e d i n her room, o n l y v i s i t e d by r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f bureaucracy:  t h e N a t i o n a l A s s i s t a n c e , t h e i n s u r a n c e man,  t h a t u b i q u i t o u s c o n s o l e r o f l o n e l y women, the milkman.  and o f c o u r s e , The e x - p r o s t i t u t e  22  i s l o n e l y and u n c a r e d - f o r , more unhappy i n h e r c o n v e r s i o n t o s o - c a l l e d r e s p e c t a b i l i t y than she was p r e v i o u s l y . Mike: Joyce: Mike:  Where d i d you go? I n t o Woolworths. What f o r ?  Joyce:  The p e o p l e .  The l i g h t s .  The crowds,  (p. 24)  T h i s exchange e p i t o m i s e s t h e l o n e l i n e s s o f an i n d i v i d u a l i n s o c i e t y . The theme o f i s o l a t i o n i s n o t common i n O r t o n ' s p l a y s ; i n f a c t h i s o n l y o t h e r t r e a t m e n t o f i t i s i n The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t .  However,  t h e theme o f h y p o c r i s y i s one seen t h r o u g h o u t the O r t o n canon, and i s i n t r o d u c e d here w i t h g r e a t v i r u l e n c e . J o y c e , an e x - p r o s t i t u t e , i s r i d i c u l o u s l y concerned with the p r o p r i e t y of other people's language. W i l s o n : I n e v e r t r i e d t o i n t e r f e r e w i t h y o u , d i d I? J o y c e : Stop u s i n g t h a t k i n d o f t a l k . (p. 28) The l u d i c r o u s n e s s o f J o y c e ' s g e n t i l i t y foreshadows  t h e b r i l l i a n t use o f  euphemism i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , where i t blossoms  i n t o Kath's  wonderfully genteel l a s c i v i o u s n e s s . Another aspect of hypocrisy introduces a f u r t h e r , often-repeated theme: O r t o n ' s a t t a c k on r e l i g i o n .  Here, as i n h i s l a t e r work, i t i s  n o t r e l i g i o n per se t h a t i s lampooned, but t h e h y p o c r i t i c a l use o f r e l i g i o n as a s h i e l d o r r e f u g e f o r n e f a r i o u s a c t i v i t i e s .  Mike, l i k e Fay i n L o o t ,  p r o f e s s e s t o be a devout C a t h o l i c , but i s i n f a c t a p r o f e s s i o n a l m u r d e r e r . O r t o n uses t h i s e x a g g e r a t e d example t o show h i s d i s l i k e o f t h o s e p e o p l e who a r e o n l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e e x t e r n a l s o f r e l i g i o n and a r e c o m p l e t e l y unaware o f t h e t r u e meaning o f C h r i s t i a n i t y . Mike: What's y o u r p r o f e s s i o n ? W i l s o n : I'm a Gents H a i r d r e s s e r . Mike: You wouldn't have t o be d a b b l i n g w i t h b i r t h - c o n t r o l d e v i c e s ? T h a t ' s no way f o r a C a t h o l i c t o c a r r y on. (p. 29)  23  Of c o u r s e , Mike does n o t c o n s i d e r t h a t m u r d e r i n g a t l e a s t f i v e p e o p l e i n l e s s than two y e a r s i s no way f o r a C a t h o l i c t o behave.  His creed  i s t h a t a p p e a r a n c e s a r e e v e r y t h i n g . H i s c o n c e r n w i t h how t h i n g s l o o k i s so extreme t h a t he i s u n w i l l i n g f o r J o y c e t o l i e about W i l s o n ' s d e a t h s i n c e i t might l e a d t o a d v e r s e p u b l i c i t y . Joyce:  . . . I'll tell  Mike:  (horrified).  them I was a s s a u l t e d . I t ' l l be i n t h e p a p e r s ,  ( p . 43)  His  p h o b i a w i t h e x t e r n a l s t a k e s p r e c e d e n c e o v e r e v e r y t h i n g , even s a v i n g  his  own l i f e .  For t h i s reason, C a t h o l i c i s m i s the f o c a l p o i n t f o r Orton's  a t t a c k s on r e l i g i o n , s i n c e C a t h o l i c i s m , more than most o t h e r Western r e l i g i o n s , demands a d h e r e n c e t o e x t e r n a l s . The image o f s o c i e t y as a h y p o c r i t i c a l , u n c a r i n g s t e r i l e w a s t e l a n d i s r e i n f o r c e d by t h e s e l f i s h n e s s o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s . We have seen Mike's concern with e x t e r n a l s ; Orton i s anxious to p r e s e n t t h i s regard f o r appear ances a s , i f n o t a n e u r o s i s , then a c o m p u l s i o n on Mike's p a r t . Our  first  s i g h t o f him i s a t h i s t o i l e t t e ; we r e p e a t e d l y see him b r u s h i n g h i s c l o t h e s , combing h i s h a i r , o r t e n d i n g t o a f l o w e r f o r h i s b u t t o n h o l e . Mike's s e l f i s h n e s s and v a n i t y a r e such t h a t he i s more c o n c e r n e d w i t h his  a p p e a r a n c e t h a n w i t h h e l p i n g J o y c e cope w i t h W i l s o n . Joyce:  S t a y where you a r e ! S t a y h e r e ! She a t t e m p t s t o g r a b h i s arm. He t r i e s t o shake her o f f . She hangs on. He s h r u g s her away, v i o l e n t l y . She comes back. They s t r u g g l e . Mike goes t o t h e m i r r o r and r u n s a comb t h r o u g h h i s h a i r , ( p . 26)  The c o m b i n a t i o n o f s e l f i s h n e s s and v a n i t y l e a d s t o Mike's p r e v a i l i n g emoti jealousy.  H i s comment I'd k i l l any man who messed w i t h y o u . him (p. 14)  Oh y e s , I'd murder  i s an o u t g r o w t h o f h i s s e l f i s h n e s s , r a t h e r t h a n h i s a f f e c t i o n f o r J o y c e .  24  On t h e o t h e r hand, J o y c e does p o s s e s s more humane f e e l i n g s .  She e x p r e s s e s  a g e n u i n e c a r e and c o n c e r n f o r W i l s o n , You poor boy.  Oh you poor boy.  She k i s s e s h i s cheek t e n d e r l y  ( p . 42)  and her h e a r t b r e a k f o r t h e g o l d f i s h i s c l e a r l y an o u t b u r s t o f r e a l  affection.  However, t h i s l o v e f o r t h e g o l d f i s h i s e s s e n t i a l l y a n e g a t i o n o f l o v e f o r humanity.  She i s more t r o u b l e d by t h e s h a t t e r e d g o l d f i s h bowl than  by W i l s o n ' s d e a t h ; n o t o n l y i s she unaware a t f i r s t t h a t he has d i e d , once she r e a l i s e s t h e f a c t , she shows l i t t l e c o n c e r n f o r h i s c o r p s e . Mike:  Bring a sheet.  C o v e r h i s body.  Joyce:  I've a b i t o f s a c k i n g somewhere,  (p. 42)  W i l s o n , however, i s a v e r y d i f f e r e n t c h a r a c t e r . H i s g r i e f a t h i s b r o t h e r ' s d e a t h and h i s r e j e c t i o n o f t h e c a l l o u s and i n d i f f e r e n t s o c i e t y i s u n d o u b t e d l y g e n u i n e , and i s i n d e e d t h e m o t i v a t i n g f o r c e f o r h i s own death.  He can be seen as a t y p e o f norm o r s t a n d a r d , a measure o f  goodness  and p u r i t y , by which we can more a c c u r a t e l y gauge t h e p e r v e r s i o n s and c a l c u l a t e d coldness of the r e s t of the world. t h i s way,  I f he i s i n t e r p r e t e d i n  t h e f o r c e o f O r t o n ' s a t t a c k on s o c i e t y i s somewhat d i l u t e d , y e t  W i l s o n ' s a n g u i s h e d c o n c e r n , h i s v o c i f e r o u s c o m p l a i n t s about t h e b e h a v i o u r of h i s f a t h e r and h i s b r o t h e r ' s f i a n c e e r e i n f o r c e t h e b l e a k v i s i o n o f the p l a y . My b r o t h e r ' s fiance'e r e s e m b l e d you i n many ways. F i c k l e i n her e m o t i o n s . She was t r y i n g on h e r wedding-gown when we g o t news o f F r a n k ' s d e a t h . Now she's had i t dyed i c e - b l u e and wears i t t o d i n n e r d a n c e s , ( p . 40) I t has been n o t e d t h a t O r t o n ' s use o f comedy emphasises view o f s o c i e t y , s i n c e i t e n c o u r a g e s a detachment audience.  his brutal  on t h e p a r t o f t h e  The i n i t i a l r e a c t i o n i s l a u g h t e r ; the r e a l i s a t i o n f o l l o w s w i t h  a g r e a t e r impact.  In The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r , O r t o n ' s comic method i s  25  e x t r a o r d i n a r y ; he a t t e m p t s t o b a l a n c e f a r c e and r e a l i s m .  John R u s s e l l  T a y l o r a p t l y views t h e " c u r i o u s m i x t u r e " o f e l e m e n t s i n t h i s p l a y as "an i n t r i c a t e ' r e v e n g e r ' s t r a g e d y ' compressed i n t o one a c t and p l a y e d as f a r c e . T h e f a r c i c a l a s p e c t s o f t h e p l a y a r e m a n i f o l d , and c o n s i s t t o a l a r g e e x t e n t o f mocking e s t a b l i s h e d d r a m a t i s t s and d r a m a t i c t r a d i t i o n s . Among t h o s e p a r o d i e d a r e , as we have s e e n , P i n t e r , n o t o n l y i n t h e o v e r a l l conception o f the play, but also i n the dialogue. Joyce: Mike: Joyce: Mike:  I've had a busy day. Are you tired? A bit. Have a busy d a y , d i d you?  Joyce:  (sharply).  Y e s . Why d o n ' t y o u l i s t e n ?  ( p . 19)  A d i s t i n c t i o n must be made between t h i s and t h e d i a l o g u e p r e v i o u s l y q u o t e d from the o r i g i n a l r a d i o p l a y .  T h i s p a s s a g e a l s o shows t h e l a c k o f communica-  t i o n , t h e s e n s e o f each c h a r a c t e r ' s b e i n g i n h i s own p r i v a t e w o r l d , b u t the p a r o d y i s e v i d e n t i n J o y c e ' s q u e s t i o n w h i c h d e l i b e r a t e l y s h a t t e r s t h e mood, and t h u s t h e P i n t e r e s q u e i l l u s i o n .  The a b s u r d , and i n p a r t i c u l a r  I o n e s c o ' s The B a l d Prima Donna, i s echoed i n a l u d i c r o u s v e r s i o n o f t h e mutual a c q u a i n t a n c e s ' "do y o u know" game. Mike:  I once knew a l a d f r o m S l i g o . Name o f Murphy. I wonder i f maybe y o u r Ma would've come a c r o s s him? W i l s o n : I ' l l make e n q u i r i e s . Mike: I'd be o b l i g e d i f y o u would. He had d a r k c u r l y h a i r and t a l k e d w i t h a pronounced b r o g u e . Not an e a s y man t o miss i n a crowd, ( p . 28) In a d d i t i o n , C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen sees a parody o f O t h e l l o ^ - j t h e s i t u a t i o n n  between Mike and J o y c e , w i t h W i l s o n as Iago, d r o p p i n g p o i s o n o u s a l l u s i o n s i n t o Mike's e a r . I m i g h t d e c i d e t o p u t Maddy i n t h e p u d d i n g c l u b . J u s t t o show my contempt f o r y o u r way o f l i f e . I n e v e r t a k e p r e c a u t i o n s . We're s k i n t o s k i n . N a t u r e ' s method, ( p . 36) T h i s i s an i n t e r e s t i n g c o m p a r i s o n .  C e r t a i n l y , Mike's monologue  bemoaning  26  J o y c e ' s i n f i d e l i t y i s somewhat more i n t e r e s t i n g i f viewed i n t h i s l i g h t ; o t h e r w i s e we a r e i n c l i n e d t o a g r e e w i t h M a r t i n E s s l i n t h a t t h e monologue i s a l e f t o v e r from t h e o r i g i n a l r a d i o p l a y , a medium i n which monologues are  n a t u r a l , "but a p p e a r as odd throwbacks i n t o V i c t o r i a n melodrama  a s i d e s on t h e s t a g e . "  However, Mr. Thomsen p r o v i d e s a much more i n t e r e s t -  ing and i m p o r t a n t p a r a l l e l when he l i k e n s W i l s o n ' s d e a t h t o t h a t o f J e r r y i n A l b e e ' s Zoo S t o r y . [ W i l s o n ] d e r s i c h a h n l i c h wie J e r r y i n A l b e e s "Zoo S t o r y " d i e s e n Tod auch noch gewunscht h a t , a b e r n i c h t , um a u f s o l c h e Weise e i n e q u a s i - m y s t i s c h e Kommunikation z w i s c h e n O p f e r und Morder zu e r r e i c h e n , s o n d e r n um s i c h f u r den Mord am s e i n e r B r u d e r zu r a c h e n J ^ Mr. Thomsen p o i n t s o u t t h e d i f f e r e n c e s i n t h e i r d e a t h s ; a l t h o u g h both have a d e a t h - w i s h , J e r r y ' s m o t i v e f o r d e a t h i s o s t e n s i b l y t o communicate w i t h P e t e r , w h i l e W i l s o n ' s i s o n l y t o avenge h i s b r o t h e r . an e l e m e n t o f parody can be s e e n .  Once a g a i n  J e r r y achieves a type o f m y s t i c a l  a t t a i n m e n t , a r e l e a s e which t r a n s c e n d s h i s s o r d i d d e a t h ; W i l s o n ' s d e a t h i s n o t o n l y s o r d i d , but i s a l s o debunked.  T h e r e i s no s e n s e o f m y s t e r y ,  j u s t a wry, a l m o s t r e s e n t f u l comment. He took i t s e r i o u s . How c h a r m i n g . . . . n u t t e r i f you ask me. ( p . 42)  He's a b i t o f a  Thus t h e d e a t h w i s h , which i n Zoo S t o r y has o v e r t o n e s o f h e r o i s m , i s r e d u c e d t o t h e l e v e l o f a s i l l y game. The h e a r t i s s i t u a t e d . . . (He p o i n t s ) . . . j u s t below t h i s badge on my p u l l o v e r . Don't m i s s , w i l l you? I d o n ' t want to be i n j u r e d . I want t o be dead. ( p . 36) Beneath t h e f a r c i c a l e l e m e n t l i e s t h e t r u t h .  W i l s o n r e a l l y does  want t o d i e , n o t o n l y t o avenge h i s b r o t h e r ' s d e a t h and thus b r i n g Mike to j u s t i c e , b u t because he c a n n o t c o n c e i v e o f l i f e w i t h o u t h i s b r o t h e r . Here we have O r t o n ' s most s e r i o u s a c c o u n t o f h o m o s e x u a l i t y :  an e x p l i c i t  27  a c c o u n t o f how p a i n f u l i t i s t o l i v e w i t h o u t one's b e l o v e d .  It i s interest-  i n g t o n o t e t h a t t h i s i s t h e most t o u c h i n g p o r t r a i t o f a f f e c t i o n i n O r t o n ' s plays.  As h i s c a r e e r p r o g r e s s e d , he d i d n o t c e a s e w r i t i n g a b o u t homo-  s e x u a l c o u p l e s , b u t had an i n c r e a s i n g t e n d e n c y t o view sex o f any k i n d as a commercial e n t e r p r i s e .  The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r i s a l l t h e more  r e m a r k a b l e s i n c e i t p r e s e n t s an o b v i o u s l y t r u t h f u l p i c t u r e o f d e v o t i o n -I'm g o i n g round t h e t w i s t w i t h h e a r t b r e a k . . . t o l i v e , s e e ( p . 32)  I d o n ' t want  -- under f a r c i c a l e x t e r n a l s : t h e parody o f t h e comedy o f menace and O r t o n ' s b r i l l i a n t use o f l a n g u a g e . We had s e p a r a t e beds -- he was a s t i c k l e r f o r c o n v e n t i o n , b u t t h a t ' s as f a r as i t went. We s p e n t e v e r y n i g h t i n each o t h e r ' s company. I t was t h e r e a s o n we n e v e r g o t any work done. ( p p . 31-2) The f i r s t s e n t e n c e r e i n f o r c e s O r t o n ' s view o f man's o b s e s s i o n w i t h a p p e a r a n c e s , and t h e e u p h e m i s t i c p o l i t e n e s s o f t h i s and a l l W i l s o n ' s s p e e c h e s We were bosom f r i e n d s . I've n e v e r t o l d anyone t h a t b e f o r e . I hope I h a v e n ' t s h o c k e d y o u ( p . 31) adds t o t h e humour o f t h e p l a y .  The second s e n t e n c e i s s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d ,  but t h e t h i r d i s a masterpiece.  Orton d e l i b e r a t e l y reduces t h e l e v e l  o f t h i s l o v e from something s p i r i t u a l and f i n e t o s o r d i d r e a l i t y .  Thus  t h e i d e a o f l o y a l t y and f i d e l i t y i s d e s t r o y e d , o r a t l e a s t , d i m i n i s h e d i n a few words.  I t w i l l be n o t e d t h a t t h i s t r e a t m e n t o f W i l s o n d e m o n s t r a t e s  a basic ambiguity o f the play.  O r t o n does n o t a p p e a r t o c o n c e i v e o f him  as a h e r o , s i n c e t h e manner o f h i s d e a t h , t h e whole c o n c e p t o f h i s r e v e n g e , and even h i s l o v e f o r h i s b r o t h e r i s t r e a t e d w i t h an e l e m e n t o f f a r c e . N e v e r t h e l e s s h i s o b v i o u s g r i e f and h i s p o w e r f u l a t t a c k on s o c i e t y w i l l n o t a l l o w us t o a c c e p t him as a f o o l , a somewhat o v e r - e x c i t e d impetuous  28  y o u n g s t e r who does n o t r e a l i s e what he i s d o i n g .  Thus t h e f o c u s o f t h e  p l a y i s somewhat c o n f u s e d ; t h e u n c e r t a i n t y and v a r i e t y o f t o n e adds t o t h i s problem. J o y c e ' s euphemisms, as an a s p e c t o f h e r h y p o c r i s y , have been m e n t i o n e d , as have W i l s o n ' s w o n d e r f u l l y p o l i t e comments a b o u t s e x u a l i t y .  Orton  does n o t use h i s b r i l l i a n t f l a i r f o r l a n g u a g e o n l y t o a t t a c k h y p o c r i s y , however; h e r e , as i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , we see a s a t i r e on t h e media.  Mike t a l k s i n t h e s t e r e o t y p e d cliChe's o f a d v e r t i s i n g ; he sounds  as i f he i s p r o m o t i n g a new s u p e r - m a s c u l i n e a f t e r - s h a v e . I'm a p o w e r f u l l y a t t r a c t i v e f i g u r e . I can s t i l l c a u s e a f l u t t e r i n f e m i n i n e h e a r t s , ( p . 1.4) The most r e m a r k a b l e a s p e c t o f t h e l a n g u a g e i n The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r is i t s variety.  In a few l i n e s O r t o n r a n g e s from t h e a b i l i t y t o c r e a t e  a r e a l f e e l i n g o f menace and f e a r Mike: Joyce: Mike: Joyce:  —  D i d he t r y t o g e t i n t h e room? No. C o u l d he have g o t i n i f he'd wanted? (pause) Yes ( p . 25)  "m t o c o m p l e t e a b s u r d i t y . Joyce: Mike: Joyce: Mike:  He'd've k i l l e d me. How do you know t h a t ? You've no e v i d e n c e t o s u p p o r t your theory. But . . . (wide-eyed) . . . I'd be dead i f I'd g o t evidence. I'd p r o s e c u t e him on y o u r b e h a l f , J o y c i e . ( p . 25)  A n o t h e r u n i q u e f e a t u r e o f t h e l a n g u a g e i n t h i s p l a y i s t h e use o f I r i s h speech rhythms.  O r t o n ' s e a r f o r d i a l o g u e i s f a u l t l e s s ; here he  a c c u r a t e l y parodies the l y r i c i s m of the I r i s h . I was born i n t h e shadow o f t h e h i l l s o f D o n e g a l . We had a p e a t farm. I t was t h e a f t e r m a t h o f t h e t r o u b l e s d r o v e us away. ( p . 27)  29  The I r i s h a r e o b v i o u s l y a s o u r c e o f amusement t o O r t o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n their attitude to r e l i g i o n . Wilson:  I'd be proud t o h e a r t h e L a t e r a n r i n g w i t h t h e f u l l throated blasphemies o f our n a t i v e land. Mike: What a r e y o u t h i n k i n g o f ? The V i c a r o f C h r i s t d o e s n ' t blaspheme. W i l s o n : He would i f he were I r i s h and drank Guinness, ( p . 29) W i l s o n ' s f i r s t comment i s W i l d e a n i n c o n s t r u c t i o n .  Like Wilde, Orton  t a k e s a common t h o u g h t o r comment, and makes a s l i g h t change t o i t which r e v e r s e s t h e moral tone and i m p o r t .  W i l d e ' s s t a t e m e n t a b o u t t h e House  o f Commons, f o r example, R e a l l y , now t h a t t h e House o f Commons i s t r y i n g t o become u s e f u l , i t does a g r e a t d e a l o f harm 15 i n w h i c h "harm" i s s u b s t i t u t e d f o r "good," i s o b v i o u s l y a model w h i c h Orton imitates here. The o v e r a l l r e s u l t o f The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r i s somewhat messy. The t o n e i s u n c e r t a i n : i t see-saws between o v e r w h e l m i n g l y b i t t e r s o c i a l comment and l i g h t - h e a r t e d parody o f t h e a t r i c a l c o n v e n t i o n s . the  Moreover,  c e n t r e o f t h e p l a y , Wilson's revenge p l o t , i s a m b i v a l e n t l y p r e s e n t e d ;  O r t o n a p p e a r s u n s u r e as t o t h e e f f e c t he w i s h e s t o c r e a t e . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h i s i s a r e m a r k a b l e f i r s t p l a y , and v e r y i n t e r e s t i n g t o r e a d i n t h e l i g h t o f O r t o n ' s l a t e r work, s i n c e i t i s f a s c i n a t i n g t o s e e t h e o r i g i n s and development o f h i s themes.  I t i s a l s o n o t e w o r t h y as a m a s t e r p i e c e  of l i t e r a r y p a r o d y , an amazing, and amusing, m i x t u r e o f s t y l e s and f o r m s . Most i m p o r t a n t l y , t h i s work d e m o n s t r a t e s O r t o n ' s f e l i c i t y w i t h l a n g u a g e , an e l e m e n t which i l l u m i n a t e s and t r a n s c e n d s a l l o t h e r a s p e c t s o f t h e p l a y .  30  E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , Joe O r t o n ' s f i r s t f u l l - l e n g t h p l a y  and  f i r s t p l a y t o be p u b l i c l y p e r f o r m e d , has n o t been g i v e n enough c o n s i d e r a t i o n by c r i t i c s . i t was  Although  S i r T e r e n c e R a t t i g a n was w i d e l y q u o t e d as  t h e b e s t f i r s t p l a y he'd seen f o r t w e n t y - f i v e y e a r s , and  E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e won b e s t p l a y o f 1964,  saying  indeed  t h e London C r i t i c s V a r i e t y Award f o r t h e  many c r i t i c s , w h i l e a d m i r i n g O r t o n ' s a b i l i t i e s ,  t h i s p l a y m e r e l y a commercial s u c c e s s .  considered  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r ' s i n t r o d u c t i o n  to an e d i t i o n o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e e x c e l s i n t h i s t y p e o f p a t r o n i s i n g denigration. The New Drama has done i t s work w e l l i n c o n d i t i o n i n g a u d i e n c e s so t h a t i f they a r e n o t q u i t e ready to a c c e p t , s a y , A r d e n o r L i v i n g s s t r a i g h t , they a r e a t l e a s t p r e p a r e d f o r a good commercial s u b s t i t u t e . T h a t , i t seems to me, i s what E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e o f f e r s , and i t i s none t h e worse f o r t h a t .... Joe O r t o n i s t h e f i r s t d r a m a t i s t t o w r i t e a s o l i d , w e l l managed commercial p l a y w h i c h b e l o n g s s p e c i f i c a l l y and unmistakably to t h e 1960's; and t h a t i n i t s e l f e n t i t l e s him t o q u i t e a sizeable s a l u t e . ^ A m e r i c a n c r i t i c a l r e a c t i o n s were even more a d v e r s e . c r i t i c who  Apart from the  d i s m i s s e d E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e as h a v i n g t h e " s p r i g h t l y  charm o f a m e d i a e v a l E n g l i s h c e s s p o o l , " ^ t h e p r e v a i l i n g c r i t i c a l was t h a t t h e p l a y was  "a work i m p o s s i b l e to take w i t h c r i t i c a l  too i n c r e d i b l e t o be drama and too r e a l i s t i c t o be comedy. i s well expressed  by W a l t e r  opinion  seriousness"'J  This point  Kerr:  E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e i s a b i z a r r e b l a c k comedy w h i c h i s s i m p l y n o t b i z a r r e enough t o d r i v e i t s p o i n t h o m e J 9 In r e c e n t y e a r s c r i t i c s have been k i n d e r t o t h e p l a y , a l t h o u g h many s t i l l t e n d t o r e g a r d i t as a p a l e shadow o f L o o t , an i n t e r e s t i n g example of " e a r l y Orton."  K a t h a r i n e Worth i s o f t h i s s c h o o l , and a l t h o u g h  quite r i g h t l y concludes  t h a t t h e c h a r a c t e r s and movement a r e n o t  o f f a r c e , she i s u n a b l e t o come t o terms w i t h t h e p l a y .  she those  31  . . . i t s terms a r e t o o human, t h e mechanism i s t o o s l o w , t o l e t us t a k e t h e c h a r a c t e r s as f i g u r e s o f f a r c e , and y e t t h e c e n t r a l e v e n t s , t h e b r u t a l m i s h a n d l i n g o f t h e o l d man and t h e s e x u a l b l a c k m a i l t h a t f o l l o w s , a r e p r e s e n t e d w i t h a k i n d o f u n y i e l d i n g comic aplomb t h a t u n d e r c u t s human r e s p o n s e s and r a i s e s w o r r y i n g doubts a b o u t t h e p l a y w r i g h t ' s own sympathies.20 Ms. Worth i s q u i t e c o r r e c t up t o a p o i n t , b u t she does n o t c a r r y h e r p e r c e p t i o n s f a r enough.  The a t t a c k on Kemp and t h e s e x u a l b l a c k m a i l  a r e c e r t a i n l y t r e a t e d w i t h "an u n y i e l d i n g comic aplomb," but why t h i s r a i s e doubts as t o O r t o n ' s s y m p a t h i e s ?  should  She c o n t i n u e s :  I t i s h a r d t o a v o i d o r d i n a r y human u n e a s i n e s s a b o u t Mr. S l o a n e ' s a t t a c k on Kemp: t h e r e ' s t o o s t r o n g a f e e l i n g o f r e a l p a i n and f e a r i n i t t o a l l o w t h e detachment O r t o n seems t o i n v i t e w i t h h i s tough j o k e s . . . .21 S u r e l y t h i s shows a b a s i c m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f O r t o n ' s method i n t h i s p l a y ; t h e humour i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f t h e v i o l e n c e , a d e v i c e t o make t h e a u d i e n c e more aware o f i t , and t o i n c r e a s e t h e i r shock.  Orton himself  was e x p l i c i t on t h i s p o i n t . J u s t as t h e humour s h o u l d make t h e sex more r e a l , so t o o , i t s h o u l d make S l o a n e ' s murder o f Kemp more r e a l . Put a murder on t h e s t a g e w i t h a s t r a i g h t f a c e , and i t ' s j u s t a whodunnit and nobody t a k e s i t s e r i o u s l y . Make i t f u n n y and you make p e o p l e t h i n k a b o u t i t . 2 2 • We a r e n o t meant t o a v o i d b e i n g uneasy; t h e comedy i s i n t e n d e d t o make us f e e l more so. O r t o n ' s work i s an i n d i c t m e n t o f modern s o c i e t y , a comic -- and sometimes n o t so comic -- d i s t o r t i o n o f m e a n i n g l e s s s o c i a l  conventions  which c o v e r depths o f d e p r a v i t y , g r e e d , s t e r i l i t y and e g o t i s m .  In a l l  h i s p l a y s we see c l e a r l y t h a t t h e s e n s i b i l i t i e s ( o r r a t h e r i n s e n s i b i l i t i e s ) o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s a r e shaped by s o c i e t y . T h e r e f o r e t h e inhumane and c r u e l b e h a v i o u r o f t h e s e f i g u r e s r e f l e c t s on t h e s t a t e o f s o c i e t y i n g e n e r a l , not these people i n p a r t i c u l a r .  Moreover, O r t o n ' s p l a y s s u g g e s t t h a t  32  one needs t o be r u t h l e s s t o s u r v i v e i n t o d a y ' s w o r l d ; t h e weaker c h a r a c t e r s a r e always overcome by t h e tough and g r a s p i n g , no m a t t e r how u n f a i r o r immoral t h i s may be. A l l t h e c h a r a c t e r s i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e a r e d r a m a t i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s o f " t h e p s y c h o p a t h i c s t y l e o f t h e '60's -- t h a t r e s t l e s s , r u t h l e s s single-minded pursuit o f s a t i s f a c t i o n , u n a w a r e o f e v i l , t r e a t i n g rape, murder, and s e x u a l p e r v e r s i o n as e v e r y d a y o c c u r r e n c e s i n t h e i r s e a r c h for self-gratification.  This play demonstrates the e g o t i s t i c a l  o f s a t i s f a c t i o n i n s e x u a l terms. hypocrisy of society.  pursuit  The u s e o f t h i s a n a l o g y r e v e a l s t h e  S e x . i s r a r e l y m e n t i o n e d , and n e v e r i n o v e r t t e r m s ;  t h e s u r f a c e b e h a v i o u r o f a l l t h e c h a r a c t e r s i s p o l i t e and g e n t e e l , y e t the m o t i v a t i n g f o r c e s f o r t h e i r a c t i o n s a r e v i t a l , animal and p r i m a l . One o f t h e r e a s o n s f o r O r t o n ' s u s e o f s e x u a l p a s s i o n as an i l l u s t r a t i o n o f g r e e d i s h i s d e s i r e t o break down s e x u a l b a r r i e r s , h i s w i s h f o r a l a c k OA  of "compartmentalisation" i n sex.  T h i s r e f e r s t o h i s i n s i s t e n c e on  s e x u a l f r e e d o m ; S l o a n e i s t h e r e f o r e b i s e x u a l and c o m p l e t e l y u n i n h i b i t e d a b o u t sex.  O r t o n was c o n c e r n e d w i t h c r e a t i n g an awareness and a c c e p t a n c e  o f homo- and b i - s e x u a l i t y and w i t h p r o v i n g t h a t t h e m o t i v a t i n g f o r c e s o f h e t e r o s e x u a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s were i d e n t i c a l t o t h o s e o f homosexual a c t i v i t i e s . Ed's and Kath's p u r s u i t o f S l o a n e i s made w i l d l y f u n n y .  Sloane i s l i t e r a l l y  a t t a c k e d from both s i d e s ; both a r e e x t r e m e l y j e a l o u s o f t h e o t h e r and v e r y a n x i o u s t o p r o t e c t t h e i r own i n t e r e s t s .  Kath's s e d u c t i o n t e c h n i q u e  demonstrates her h y p o c r i s y ; d e s p i t e t r y i n g d e s p e r a t e l y t o arouse Sloane by w a l k i n g around " i n t h e r u d e , " she m a i n t a i n s t h a t he i s a t t a c k i n g h e r . Kath: You c a n ' t s e e t h r o u g h t h i s d r e s s c a n you? I been worried f o r fear o f embarrassing you. ( S l o a n e 1 i f t s h i s hand and t o u c h e s t h e p o i n t where he j u d g e s h e r n'ipple t o be.)  33  Kath: ( l e a p s back.) Mr. S l o a n e -- don't b e t r a y y o u r t r u s t . S l o a n e : I j u s t t h o u g h t -Kath: I know what you t h o u g h t . You wanted t o see i f my t i t t i e s were a l l my own . . . . I must be c a r e f u l o f y o u . Have me naked on the f l o o r i f I g i v e you a chance, (pp. 26-7) The i n v e r s i o n o f t r u t h i n t h i s f i n a l l i n e i s w o n d e r f u l l y  funny.  Kath i s a b r i l l i a n t l y c r e a t e d c h a r a c t e r ; h e r o v e r w h e l m i n g g r e e d and d e s i r e f o r S l o a n e a r e m a n i f e s t e d by her p e r p e t u a l s u c k i n g o f sweets.  Her g u s t a t o r y  enjoyment s u g g e s t s her v o r a c i o u s s e x u a l a p p e t i t e ; m o r e o v e r her p e r p e t u a l c o n c e r n w i t h f o o d , t a b l e t s o r sweets e m p h a s i s e s her greedy n a t u r e , w h i c h i s p e r e n n i a l l y i n search of s a t i s f a c t i o n .  Ed's s e d u c t i o n o f S l o a n e i s on  a d i f f e r e n t , more s i n i s t e r l e v e l , one w h i c h r e l a t e s the themes o f s e x u a l p a s s i o n and g r e e d t h r o u g h S l o a n e ' s m a t e r i a l i s m .  Ed uses h i s w e a l t h  and  p o s i t i o n as f a c t o r s t o i n f l u e n c e S l o a n e . I've a c e r t a i n amount o f i n f l u e n c e . F r i e n d s w i t h money. I've two c a r s . Judge f o r y o u r s e l f . I u s u a l l y spend my h o l i d a y s i n p l a c e s where t h e b i n t s have got r i n g s t h r o u g h t h e i r noses, (p. 35) The e q u a t i o n between s e x u a l i t y and g r e e d i s c l e a r l y seen a t t h e c r i s i s p o i n t o f t h e p l a y when Kath and Ed argue f o r p o s s e s s i o n o f S l o a n e .  It  s h o u l d be n o t e d t h a t a t t h i s p o i n t both a r e aware t h a t he has murdered t h e i r f a t h e r , and Kath a l s o knows t h a t he has committed murder once b e f o r e . N e v e r t h e l e s s , both want t o t a l p o s s e s s i o n o f him, and r e s o r t t o s e x u a l taunts to a s s e r t t h e i r s u p e r i o r i t y . Kath: . . . What more c o u l d he want? Ed: Freedom. Kath: He's f r e e w i t h me. Ed: You're immoral. Kath: I t ' s n a t u r a l . Ed:  He's c l e a n - l i v i n g by n a t u r e ; t h a t ' s e v e r y man's r i g h t , (p. 89)  Through t h i s d i a l o g u e O r t o n makes us aware o f t h e h y p o c r i s y and a m o r a l i t y of these people. immoral,  O b j e c t i v e l y * o f c o u r s e , Kath and Ed and S l o a n e a r e  u n n a t u r a l , and a n y t h i n g but c l e a n - l i v i n g .  34  I t i s t h i s s e x u a l g r e e d t h a t i s so b e a u t i f u l l y and a p t l y s a t i s f i e d by t h e r e s o l u t i o n o f t h e p l a y : a l t e r n a t e six-month p e r i o d s .  Kath and Ed's s h a r i n g o f S l o a n e f o r Both a r e d e l i g h t e d by t h i s i d e a ; Ed  modestly  a c k n o w l e d g i n g i t as p a r t o f h i s e x p e r i e n c e i n b u s i n e s s .  "Put i t down  t o my e x p e r i e n c e a t t h e c o n f e r e n c e t a b l e " (p. 97).  experience  i s experience i n s o c i e t y ' s dehumanisation them as o b j e c t s . on.  This  o f p e o p l e , and t r e a t m e n t  S l o a n e becomes an o b j e c t , t o be u s e d , d e s p i s e d and  He f a l l s to p i e c e s i n t h e p r e s e n c e o f t h i s v o r a c i o u s c o u p l e ;  c o o l s e l f - a s s u r e d young man  passed  the  becomes a h y s t e r i c a l g r o v e l l i n g w r e t c h .  T h i s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n p o i n t s t h e " o b v i o u s " moral o f t h e p l a y : bit.  of  the b i t e r  S l o a n e i s h i m s e l f the i n c a r n a t i o n o f g r e e d ; he p l a y s Kath and  Ed o f f a g a i n s t each o t h e r t o have t h e e a s i e s t l i f e p o s s i b l e .  He i s  c o m p l e t e l y a m o r a l ; sex i s o n l y a t o o l , a way o f making money. Yes, y e s . I'm an a l l r o u n d e r . a n y t h i n g you c a r e to m e n t i o n ,  A great a l l rounder. (p. 34)  In  However, S l o a n e ' s d o w n f a l l by no means c o n s t i t u t e s a . v i c t o r y f o r a l l good c i t i z e n s , s i n c e both Ed and Kath a r e r e v e a l e d as i n f i n i t e l y more h a r m f u l , inhuman and dangerous than the s e l f - c o n f e s s e d m u r d e r e r  Sloane.  O r t o n ' s moral has t h e r e f o r e an u n e x p e c t e d t w i s t , a f u r t h e r p o i n t e r t o the c o r r u p t n e s s o f humanity. A n o t h e r a s p e c t o f s o c i e t y a t t a c k e d w i t h g r e a t vehemence i n t h i s play i s s t e r i l i t y . dump, s u r r o u n d e d  The Kemp's house i s s i t u a t e d i n t h e m i d d l e o f a r u b b i s h  by t h e d e c a y i n g d e b r i s o f s o c i e t y .  Many p r o d u c t i o n s  have u t i l i s e d t h i s v i s u a l metaphor by p i l i n g s c r a p m e t a l , o l d t i r e s , and o t h e r c a s t - o f f p a r a p h e r n a l i a o f s o c i e t y a t t h e edge o f t h e s e t , as i f i t were g r a d u a l l y e n c r o a c h i n g on t h e Kemp f a m i l y ' s l i v e s :  an image  35  r e m i n i s c e n t o f t h e c o r p s e i n I o n e s c o ' s Ame"dee. s t e r i l i t y of corruption, of s t i f l e d l i f e . a purpose, a reason f o r l i v i n g . are  None o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s has  The l a r g e , i m p o r t a n t i s s u e s o f l i f e  non-existent; i n t h e i r place are t r i v i a .  of b o r i n g and s t e r i l e a c t i v i t i e s .  This s t e r i l i t y i s the  L i f e i s reduced to a s e r i e s  Sloane's d e s c r i p t i o n of h i s parents  typifies this. From what I remember t h e y was r e s p e c t e d . You know, H.P. d e b t s . B r i d g e . A l i t t l e l i g h t g a r d e n i n g . The u s u a l a c t i v i t i e s o f a c u l t u r e d community . . . . Every year I pay a v i s i t t o t h e i r g r a v e . I t a k e s a n d w i c h e s . Make a day of i t . The g r a v e y a r d i s s i t u a t e d i n p l e a s a n t s u r r o u n d i n g s so i t ' s no h a r d s h i p , (p. 16) The e x t e r n a l s a r e a l l i m p o r t a n t t o t h i s s o c i e t y , and O r t o n g i v e s us a b r i l l i a n t l y s u b t l e view o f t h e s e e x t e r n a l s i n h i s s t a g e d i r e c t i o n s . Kath s p r a y s t h e room w i t h an a e r o s o l p r i o r t o s e d u c i n g S l o a n e -- p r o b a b l y a s i c k l y - s w e e t s c e n t e d f l o w e r s p r a y -- i n s t e a d o f o p e n i n g a window; t h e s i d e b o a r d c o n t a i n s a m a r v e l l o u s s e l e c t i o n o f u s e l e s s , d e c a y i n g and i l l assorted artefacts:  a piece of unfinished knitting, a tattered knitting  p a t t e r n , a broken c h i n a f i g u r e and a doorknob.  The theme o f s t e r i l i t y  and f a l s e n e s s i s t h r u s t home when, a t t h e t e n s e s t moment o f t h e p l a y , t h e t e n s i o n i s u n d e r c u t by S l o a n e s h a k i n g o u t Kath's f a l s e t e e t h .  "My  teeth!  This  My t e e t h .  He's broke my t e e t h .  Where a r e t h e y ? " ( p . 9 4 ) .  wanton d e s t r u c t i o n o f m a t e r i a l t h i n g s annoys Ed more than S l o a n e ' s p r e v i o u s b e h a v i o u r , i n c l u d i n g t h e murder o f h i s f a t h e r . E x p e n s i v e e q u i p m e n t gone west now see? I'm annoyed w i t h y o u , boy. S e r i o u s l y annoyed . . . . Is t h i s what we l i s t e n t o t h e Week's Good Cause f o r ? A l o t o f a c t o r s and a c t r e s s e s making a p p e a l s f o r c a s h g i f t s to r a i s e h o o l i g a n s who c a n ' t c o n t r o l t h e m s e l v e s , (p. 94) These s t e r i l e p h y s i c a l e x t e r n a l i t i e s a r e p a r a l l e l e d by t h e s t e r i l e m e n t a l i t y , i n c l u d i n g the single-minded greed mentioned p r e v i o u s l y .  Other  36  mental l i m i t a t i o n s i n c l u d e an i n v e r s i o n o f m o r a l s -- w i t h i n l i m i t s .  Ed,  f o r example, s e e s S l o a n e q u i t e c l e a r l y as a m o r a l , b u t p e r c e i v e s h i m s e l f as a l i b e r a l h i g h - p r i n c i p l e d  man.  Ed:  You're c o m p l e t e l y w i t h o u t m o r a l s , boy. I hadn't r e a l i s e d how d e p r a v e d you were. You murder my f a t h e r . Now you ask me t o h e l p y o u evade J u s t i c e . Is t h a t where my l i b e r a l p r i n c i p l e s have b r o u g h t me? S l o a n e : You've g o t no p r i n c i p l e s . Ed: No p r i n c i p l e s ? Oh you r e a l l y have u p s e t me now. Why am I i n t e r e s t e d i n y o u r w e l f a r e ? Why d i d I g i v e y o u a j o b ? Why do t h i n k i n g men everywhere show young boys t h e s t r a i t and narrow? F l a s h cheque books when d e l i n q u e n c y i s mentioned? S u p p o r t t h e Scout-movement? P r i n c i p l e s , boy, b l e e d i n g p r i n c i p l e s , ( p . 82) The humour i n Ed's r e p l y i s w o n d e r f u l . homosexual  He i s r e v e a l e d as a  narrow-minded  whose " p r i n c i p l e s " a r e d i r e c t e d towards "redeeming young boys"  f o r h i s own ends.  In t h i s s o c i e t y t e r m s l i k e m o r a l s and p r i n c i p l e s a r e  debased and used w i t h o u t a t h o u g h t f o r t h e i r r e a l meaning.  Within the  c o n f i n e s o f h i s s o c i e t y Ed may w e l l be moral and p r i n c i p l e d , but O r t o n e n a b l e s us t o see how f a l s e t h i s w o r l d i s . He c r e a t e s what a p p e a r s t o be a c o n v e n t i o n a l s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n , then e n g i n e e r s i t s d i s l o c a t i o n t o p r e s e n t a p i c t u r e o f moral a n a r c h y .  In t h i s p l a y , moral systems o n l y  e x i s t i n s o f a r as t h e y can be p e r v e r t e d t o s u i t p e r s o n a l ends; s o c i e t y may e s t a b l i s h l a w s , but i n d i v i d u a l s break them w i t h i m p u n i t y . I t i s O r t o n ' s use o f l a n g u a g e t h a t has a t t r a c t e d most c r i t i c a l a t t e n t i o n , and r i g h t l y s o .  As John R u s s e l l T a y l o r p o i n t s o u t :  The key t o O r t o n ' s d r a m a t i c w o r l d i s t o be f o u n d i n t h e s t r a n g e r e l a t i o n s h i p between t h e h a p p e n i n g s o f h i s p l a y s , and t h e manner i n which t h e c h a r a c t e r s speak o f them. The happenings may be as o u t r a g e o u s as you l i k e i n terms o f m o r a l i t y , a c c e p t e d c o n v e n t i o n o r w h a t e v e r , but t h e p r i m n e s s and p r o p r i e t y o f what i s s a i d h a r d l y e v e r b r e a k s down.25 Most c r i t i c s a r e unanimous i n t h e i r p r a i s e f o r O r t o n ' s d i a l o g u e , e s p e c i a l l y f o r i t s accuracy o f c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n , "the prepacked phrases of a d v e r t i s i n g , "  37  " t h e i d i o m s o f t h e p o p u l a r p r e s s , the s t i l t e d l u s c i o u s n e s s o f Grade B movies.His  trademark i s a f f e c t e d g e n t i l i t y ; t h e s p e a k e r s t r i v e s  f o r e l e g a n c e , but somehow m i s s e s .  I t i s o f t e n t h e d i s c r e p a n c y between  t h e appearance o f t h e c h a r a c t e r and h i s language t h a t i s amusing,  as  w e l l as t h e d i s c r e p a n c y between word and a c t i o n . F o r example, Kemp, an a r c h e t y p i c a l l y r u d e , i g n o r a n t o l d man, e x p l a i n s t h e r e a s o n f o r h i s s t r a i n e d r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h h i s son i n m o c k - l e g a l j a r g o n . Then one day, s h o r t l y a f t e r h i s s e v e n t e e n t h b i r t h d a y , I had c a u s e t o r e t u r n home u n e x p e c t e d and f o u n d him c o m m i t t i n g some k i n d o f f e l o n y i n t h e bedroom, (p. 19) K a t h , whose " m o t h e r l y " t e n d e n c i e s towards S l o a n e have been v e r y e v i d e n t , and who has c o n f e s s e d t o h a v i n g an i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d w i t h i n t h e  first  t h r e e minutes o f h i s c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h a p e r f e c t s t r a n g e r , has t h e  amazing  a b i l i t y to maintain a pretence of p u r i t y . I'd t h e u p b r i n g i n g a nun would envy and t h a t ' s t h e t r u t h . U n t i l I was f i f t e e n I was more f a m i l i a r w i t h A f r i c a than w i t h my own body. T h a t ' s why I'm so p l i a b l e , (p. 25) Kath's " p l i a b i l i t y " i s d e m o n s t r a t e d d u r i n g t h i s speech by h e r o p e n l y l u s t i n g a f t e r S l o a n e , and s t r o k i n g h i s s k i n , under t h e g u i s e o f b a n d a g i n g his l e g .  The c o n t r a s t i n both t h e s e c a s e s i s h i l a r i o u s .  Kemp l o o k s  and a c t s as i f he i s u n a b l e t o r e a d , l e t a l o n e pronounce such s e n t e n c e s as " I ' d done i t as a p r e c a u t i o n a r y measure," and t h e d i s c r e p a n c y between Kath's words and a c t i o n s i s c l e a r . A l l O r t o n ' s c h a r a c t e r s a r e masters o f euphemism; t h e y s o f t e n t h e harshness of r e a l i t y with genteel phrases.  The c o n t r a s t between t h e  g l o s s o f g e n t i l i t y and t h e f a c t s i s one o f t h e c h i e f s o u r c e s o f O r t o n ' s humour. Kath:  I've something t o t e l l y o u . I've a bun i n t h e oven.  (She l i f t s her a p r o n .  Shyly)  38  Ed: Kath:  You've a whole b l o o d y b a k e r ' s shop i n t h e oven f r o m t h e look of t h a t . Mr. S l o a n e was n i c e t o me.  A r e n ' t you shocked?  Kath's f i r s t s t a t e m e n t r e v e a l s her t r u e o r i g i n s ; t h e humour o f  (p.  87)  Ed's  r e s p o n s e i s o b v i o u s , but the more s u b t l e humour and a t t e m p t a t p r o p r i e t y o f "Mr. S l o a n e was n i c e t o me," a masterpiece.  coming f r o m a rampant nymphomaniac, i s  The c o n t r a s t between Kath's p h y s i c a l i t y and h e r extreme  g e n t i l i t y of language i s wonderfully maintained.  She r e s o r t s t o euphemisms  even when she i s on t h e p o i n t o f r a p i n g S l o a n e . T h a t s e a t i s e r e c t e d t o t h e memory o f Mrs. Gwen L e w i s . She was a l a d y who took a l o t o f t r o u b l e w i t h i n v a l i d s . I t was n e a r t h a t s e a t t h a t my baby was t h o u g h t o f . (p. 42) The use o f e u p h e m i s t i c  l a n g u a g e i s n o t r e s t r i c t e d t o Kath.  Sloane,  the  a m o r a l , s e x u a l l y a d a p t a b l e m u r d e r e r , sounds t h e p i c t u r e o f p r o p r i e t y and g e n t i l i t y when d e s c r i b i n g t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s a  under which he murdered  man. He wanted to photo me. For c e r t a i n i n t e r e s t i n g f e a t u r e s I had t h a t he wanted t h e e x c l u s i v e r i g h t o f p r e s e r v i n g . You know how i t i s . I d i d n ' t l i k e t o r e f u s e , (p. 73)  Thus t h e e u p h e m i s t i c  d i s l o c a t i o n i s one o f O r t o n ' s b e s t known l i n g u i s t i c  t r a d e m a r k s ; n o t o n l y does i t c o n t r i b u t e s i g n i f i c a n t l y t o t h e humour o f t h e p l a y , i t a l s o d e f i n e s i t s moral u n i v e r s e , s i n c e i t i s an image o f the c h a r a c t e r s '  behaviour.  A n o t h e r a s p e c t o f d i s l o c a t i o n i n t h e l a n g u a g e o f t h i s p l a y i s seen i n t h e terms o f d o m e s t i c a f f e c t i o n which c o n s i s t e n t l y deny t h e r e a l of the r e l a t i o n s h i p s being e s t a b l i s h e d . is perverted.  Thus t h e whole f a m i l y s i t u a t i o n  In p l a c e o f f a t h e r , d a u g h t e r and l o d g e r (who  l o v e r ) , the language presents a h o r r i f y i n g p i c t u r e of sexual K a t h , i n r e f e r r i n g to h e r s e l f as S l o a n e ' s  nature  i s the daughter's perversion.  Mamma, e f f e c t i v e l y c r e a t e s an  39  O e d i p a l r e l a t i o n s h i p , an image r e i n f o r c e d by S l o a n e ' s murder o f t h e Dadda. Moreover she i n t r o d u c e s t h e i d e a o f i n c e s t , s i n c e she, t h e d a u g h t e r , i s a l s o t h e Mamma, and t h e r e f o r e presumably  her f a t h e r ' s w i f e .  This vision  o f a n a r c h i c m o r a l i t y i s once a g a i n a c h i e v e d by the d i s l o c a t i o n o f  language.  The Kemp.family's language i s formed by t h e m e d i a , by images o f g e n t e e l l i f e i n a d v e r t i s e m e n t s , magazines and f i l m s .  Ed's comments on h i s a c t i v i t i e s  c o u l d be t h e s c e n a r i o f o r an up-market c i g a r e t t e o r l i q u o r  commercial;  I s h a l l d r e s s i n a q u i e t s u i t . D r i v e up i n t h e motor. The Commissionaire w i l l s p r i n g forward. There i n t h a t m i r a c l e o f g l a s s and c o n c r e t e my c o l l e a g u e s and me w i l l have a q u i e t d r i n k b e f o r e t h e b u s i n e s s o f t h e day (p. 38) whereas Kath's d e s c r i p t i o n o f her f o r m e r l o v e r i s s t r a i g h t o u t o f t h e pages o f True Romances. He t o o was handsome and i n t h e prime o f manhood. wonder I f e l l ? (p. 42)  Can y o u  The b r i l l i a n t use o f language makes t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s e a s i l y i d e n t i f i a b l e and b e l i e v a b l e . S u r e l y Norman Nadel m i s s e s t h e p o i n t when he s a y s : 28 c h a r a c t e r s f a s c i n a t e us but we don't r e a l l y b e l i e v e i n them."  "Orton's  We  s h o u l d see t h e s e p e o p l e as r e a l , perhaps t o o s t e r e o t y p e d t o be t o t a l l y b e l i e v a b l e as i n d i v i d u a l s , b u t c e r t a i n l y e a s i l y r e c o g n i s a b l e members o f s o c i e t y i n t h e i r d e s i r e s and i n t h e i r methods o f b e h a v i o u r . One f u r t h e r a s p e c t o f O r t o n ' s language needs e x a m i n a t i o n -- h i s a f f i n i t y with Wilde.  The use o f t h e e p i g r a m as an i n s t r u m e n t o f moral  a n a r c h y has been d i s c u s s e d ; i n t h i s p l a y O r t o n ' s language the i m m o r a l i t y o f s o c i e t y . H i s comment:  emphasises  " I t ' s a l l any r e a s o n a b l e c h i l d  can e x p e c t i f t h e dad i s p r e s e n t a t the c o n c e p t i o n " ( p . 97)  demonstrates  t h i s moral a n a r c h y and compares c l o s e l y i n rhythm, i d e a and c o n t e n t w i t h To l o s e one p a r e n t , Mr. W o r t h i n g , may be r e g a r d e d as a m i s f o r t u n e : t o l o s e both l o o k s l i k e c a r e l e s s n e s s . 2 9  40  T h i s epigrammatic  f a c i l i t y i s seen c l e a r l y t h r o u g h o u t O r t o n ' s work, but  Orton i s very c a r e f u l to c o n t r o l i t . I have t o be v e r y c a r e f u l i n t h e way I w r i t e , n o t t o l e t i t become s o r t o f a mannerism, i t c o u l d v e r y e a s i l y become a mannerism.30 O r t o n uses l a n g u a g e ' f o r r e a l i s m , f o r d e f i n i t i o n o f c h a r a c t e r ; he does n o t l e t h i m s e l f wallow i n f e l i c i t o u s p h r a s e s f o r t h e i r own s a k e . r e s p e c t , he i s v e r y d i f f e r e n t from W i l d e .  In t h i s  Many, i f n o t a l l , o f W i l d e ' s  epigrams a r e j u s t as amusing out o f c o n t e x t ; O r t o n ' s p h r a s e s l o s e t h e i r b i t e when d i v o r c e d from t h e c h a r a c t e r . E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e s h o u l d t h e r e f o r e be seen as worthy o f d e t a i l e d critical analysis.  I t i s an i n d i c t m e n t o f s o c i e t y ; an a t t e m p t t o make  t h e r e a d e r o r a u d i e n c e aware o f how we d e s t r o y o u r s e l v e s w i t h e x c e s s i v e greed.  To c r e a t e t h i s awareness, O r t o n employs t a b o o s - - i n t h i s p l a y  murder, h o m o s e x u a l i t y and nymphomania -- t o c o n f r o n t t h e r e a d e r and him i n t o awareness  -- t h r o u g h l a u g h t e r .  shock  I r o n i c a l l y , the play i s dedicated  to Kenneth H a l l i w e l l , whose g r e e d and p o s s e s s i v e n e s s caused him t o murder Orton.  Thus t h e p o r t e n t o f t h e drama was f u l f i l l e d , a p o i n t which s h o u l d  n o t o n l y make t h e message even more p o i g n a n t , but s h o u l d a l s o d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t t h e w o r l d o f O r t o n ' s dramas was n o t f a n t a s y , but r e a l i t y .  The Good and F a i t h f u 1 S e r v a n t was w r i t t e n i n 1964, a few months b e f o r e L o o t , b u t was n o t t e l e v i s e d u n t i l A p r i l 1967.  The p l a y i s n o t  one o f O r t o n ' s b e s t ; c o n s e q u e n t l y i t has been i g n o r e d by t h e m a j o r i t y of c r i t i c s .  John Lahr a t t e m p t s t o p l a c e i t c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y , by v i e w i n g  t h e p l a y as "the t r a n s i t i o n from S l o a n e t o L o o t , from t h e innuendo o f a comedy o f manners t o o u t r a g e o u s f a r c i c a l e x p l i c i t n e s s . " 3 1 The Good  41  and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t s u f f e r s from t h i s d e f i n i t i o n , s i n c e t h e p r o b l e m o f t h e p l a y i s p r e c i s e l y t h a t i t f a l l s between two s t o o l s : comedy o f manners nor a f a r c e . t i o n o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e :  i t is neither a  T h e r e i s none o f the b r i l l i a n t c h a r a c t e r i z a most o f the c h a r a c t e r s a r e  stereotypes,  even Mrs. V e a l f o y , t h e most i n t e r e s t i n g f i g u r e , l a t e r r e i n c a r n a t e d i n t h e more f a s c i n a t i n g form o f Erpingham i n The Erpingham Camp, i s h a r d l y a c h a r a c t e r w o r t h y o f c o m p a r i s o n with., f o r example, Kath i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e .  Moreover, a l t h o u g h c e r t a i n e l e m e n t s o f t h e p l a y ( D e b b i e  g i v i n g b i r t h d u r i n g her w e d d i n g , t h e s c e n e i n Ray's bedroom) may  be a c c u r a t e l y  c l a s s i f i e d as f a r c i c a l , The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t does n o t r e a l l y f o r e s h a d o w any o f the b r i l l i a n t l y f u n n y , mordant f a r c e o f L o o t .  In f a c t  i t i s an e r r o r t o view t h i s as a t r a n s i t i o n p l a y , s i n c e , i f i t i s r e m a r k a b l e a t a l l , i t i s f o r i t s u n i q u e n e s s w i t h i n O r t o n ' s canon.  This i s Orton's  o n l y p l a y t o l e a v e t h e r e a d e r o r a u d i e n c e w i t h a p r e v a i l i n g mood o f s a d n e s s ; t h e s o c i a l comment, l i k e t h a t o f The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r , i s o n l y s l i g h t l y tempered by t h e humour.  However, u n l i k e The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r , w h i c h  l e a v e s a " n a s t y t a s t e , " a b i t t e r f e e l i n g o f v i r u l e n t a n g e r , The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t conveys a more g e n t l e s o r r o w . Perhaps i t i s t h i s unusual  ( f o r O r t o n ) h i n t o f c o m p a s s i o n t h a t has  l e a d t o e f f u s i o n s f r o m t h o s e c r i t i c s who  have commented on t h e p l a y .  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r s t a t e s t h a t i t "shows a r e m a r k a b l e e x t e n s i o n o f h i s [ O r t o n ' s ] range"32 and m a i n t a i n s  that  d e s p i t e t h e harsh i r o n y o f t h e p l a y . . . a s u r p r i s i n g amount o f compassion and human warmth -- not q u a l i t i e s we would n o r m a l l y a s s o c i a t e w i t h Orton -- comes t h r o u g h . 3 3 Parts of t h i s a n a l y s i s are accurate:  t h e p l a y i s n o t as f u n n y as t h e  r e s t o f O r t o n ' s work; h i s b i t i n g w i t i s r e p l a c e d by a g e n t l e r t o n e ;  he  42  appears  l e s s angry a t t h e r e a s o n s f o r t h e s i t u a t i o n than s a d a t i t s  existence.  N e v e r t h e l e s s , Mr. T a y l o r i s s t r e t c h i n g a p o i n t by c a l l i n g t h i s  play a remarkable  e x t e n s i o n o f O r t o n ' s range; i t appears r a t h e r t o be  a retrogressive step, since i t consists only of a p l o t reminiscent o f any o f s e v e r a l " s l i c e o f l i f e " p l a y w r i g h t s , f o r example, C l i v e Exton and A l u n Owen -- e n l i v e n e d o f c o u r s e by O r t o n ' s e x t r a o r d i n a r y s t y l e . C h r i s t i a n Thomsen, a g r e e i n g w i t h John R u s s e l l T a y l o r t h a t t h i s p l a y represents a breakthrough  f o r Orton,  Zum e r s t e n m a l i n s e i n e r D r a m a t i k e r k a r r i e r e kommt O r t o n h i e r h i n t e r s e i n e r Deckung von I r o n i e und Zynismus h e r v o r , z e i g t s i c h verwundbar, b e w e i s t E i g e n s c h a f t w i e m e n s c h l i c h e Warme, M i t l e i d und k a m p f e r i s c h e n Hass 34 admits t h a t t h e theme o f t h i s p l a y i s n o t new; however, he m a i n t a i n s t h a t " S i e i s t a b e r i n d i e s e r Form f u r das e n g l i s c h e Drama neu."35 i t i s u n c l e a r e x a c t l y what Thomsen means by " i n t h i s form"; by t h e r e s t o f h i s argument, one assumes he i s r e f e r r i n g t o O r t o n ' s unique manner which i n f o r m s h i s t r e a t m e n t o f t h e theme.  O r t o n ' s s t y l e and humorous  v i e w p o i n t a r e i n d u b i t a b l y o r i g i n a l ; n e v e r t h e l e s s Mr. Thomsen c a n n o t use t h i s somewhat tenuous argument as a p o i n t i n f a v o u r o f t h e u n o r i g i n a l plot. D e s p i t e t h e s t e r e o t y p e d c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n and t h e hackneyed theme, O r t o n p r e s e n t s a c o h e r e n t and w e l l - d e v e l o p e d s a t i r e a g a i n s t a u t h o r i t y . The e p i g r a p h t o t h e p l a y c o n s i s t s n o t o n l y o f t h e B i b l i c a l  reference  t o "thou good and f a i t h f u l s e r v a n t " (Matthew 2 5 : 2 1 ) , b u t a l s o p r o v i d e s the Concise Oxford D i c t i o n a r y ' s d e f i n i t i o n o f f a i t h .  " F a i t h , n.  Reliance,  t r u s t i_n, b e l i e f founded on a u t h o r i t y " ( p . 1 5 1 ) . R e l i a n c e on a u t h o r i t y i s w o n d e r f u l l y s a t i r i s e d i n t h e c h a r a c t e r o f McLeavy i n L o o t .  George  Buchanan, i n The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t , i s n o t , however, a f i g u r e  43  of f u n .  Whereas McLeavy's b e l i e f i n t h e t r u s t w o r t h i n e s s o f t h e p o l i c e  f o r c e and t h e e f f i c a c y o f t h e E n g l i s h j u d i c i a l system i s shown t o be l u d i c r o u s , Buchanan's t o t a l r e l i a n c e on h i s f i r m f o r f i f t y y e a r s o f h i s l i f e i s merely r a t h e r sad. Buchanan's u n i v e r s e .  B e l i e f i n and o b e d i e n c e t o s o c i e t y i n f o r m s  H i s f i r m i s p o r t r a y e d as a microcosm;  o r g a n i s e s and makes arrangements  Mrs. V e a l f o y  f o r a l l personnel l i t e r a l l y from the  c r a d l e to the grave. Of c o u r s e t h i s image o f man as an automaton s u b s e r v i e n t t o a u t h o r i t y i s n o t new.  W. H. Auden's poem, "The Unknown C i t i z e n " may p r o v i d e t h e  model f o r many o f O r t o n ' s  lines.  Was he f r e e ? Was he happy? The q u e s t i o n i s a b s u r d Had a n y t h i n g been wrong we s h o u l d c e r t a i n l y have h e a r d . ° T h i s s t a t e m e n t r e s u r f a c e s i n The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t as S h o u l d y o u r p r i v a t e l i f e be i n v o l v e d , we s h a l l be t h e f i r s t to i n f o r m you o f t h e f a c t . (p. 159) O r t o n ' s p l a y i s however, a much more damning p i c t u r e o f s o c i e t y than Auden's poem, s i n c e i t s t r e s s e s one o f t h e c r u e l e s t a s p e c t s o f modern l i f e -- i s o l a t i o n .  Buchanan has no f a m i l y ( u n t i l t h e v e r y end o f h i s  l i f e ) , and does n o t a p p e a r t o have any f r i e n d s o r i n t e r e s t s o u t s i d e h i s work.  The most p o w e r f u l e l e m e n t o f t h i s p l a y i s t h e b r i l l i a n t l y a c u t e  p i c t u r e o f a man w i t h n o t h i n g t o l i v e f o r .  R e t i r e m e n t i s seen t o be  d u l l and s t i f l i n g ; o l d age o f f e r s n o t h i n g e x c e p t d i s a p p o i n t m e n t . presents a compassionate "old,  view o f t h e problems o f a g i n g :  Orton  t h e image o f  t i r e d and d e p r e s s e d f a c e s " v a l i a n t l y t r y i n g t o s i n g " a l l t h e songs  w i t h 'Happy' i n them" i n r e s p o n s e t o Mrs. V e a l f o y ' s e x h o r t a t i o n s i s e x t r e m e l y moving.  However, i t would be a m i s t a k e t o i m a g i n e t h a t O r t o n ' s  e n e r g i e s a r e d i r e c t e d s o l e l y a g a i n s t a u t h o r i t y ; i t i s t r u e t h a t he i s  44  e x p l i c i t about the abruptness  o f Buchanan's d i s m i s s a l  A f t e r lunch you're f r e e . She s m i l e s and goes o u t . up t h e p a r c e l s , j o i n s t h e t o him o r i s aware o f h i s forward (p. 161)  --  We've no f u r t h e r need o f you. Buchanan j[S a l o n e . He p i c k s l u n c h queue. No one s p e a k s presence. The queue moves  -- and i s c o n c e r n e d t h a t we s h o u l d make t h e e q u a t i o n between Buchanan no l o n g e r b e i n g needed and h i s l o n e l i n e s s , y e t he i s a l s o f i g h t i n g what John Lahr so a p t l y terms "the l i f e s l e e p o f t h e c r e d u l o u s , t h e o f p e o p l e l i k e Buchanan who  attitudes  have l e t t h e m s e l v e s be s u c k e d d r y .  One o f t h e themes o f t h i s p l a y , a view o f t h e w o r k e r as a p r o d u c t w h i c h wears o u t , i s w e l l e x p r e s s e d  mechanical  by Thomsen:  Der A r b e i t e r e r s c h e i n t s e l b s t a l s h a l b m e c h a n i s i e r t e s P r o d u k t , w e l c h e s a u s s c h l i e s s l i c h s e i n e A r b e i t s k r a f t r e p r o d u z i e r t und v e r k a u f t , d e r a u s g e n u t z t , a b g e w i r t s c h a f t e t und dann b e s e i t e g e s t e l l t und a b g e s c h r i e b e n w i r d . 3 8 The c o n c e p t o f mechanisms b r e a k i n g down o r w e a r i n g o u t , i s o f c e n t r a l to t h i s play.  George's body i s seen i n m e c h a n i c a l  course,  terms:  he  needs h i s a r t i f i c i a l arm, h e a r i n g - a i d and g l a s s e s t o f u n c t i o n p r o p e r l y . On a_ t a b l e , an a r t i f i c i a l arm, a_ p a i r o f g l a s s e s , a_ h e a r i n g - a i d . E d i t h e n t e r s . . . She h e l p s Buchanan tp_ s i t up and g i v e s him his g l a s s e s . Now you can see the w o r l d . She g i v e s him h i s h e a r i n g - a i d . Now you can hear. (p. 171) The t o a s t e r and c l o c k , Buchanan's r e t i r e m e n t g i f t s , a r e l i k e h i s body i n t h a t t h e y t o o do n o t f u n c t i o n p r o p e r l y .  They a r e n o t o n l y metaphors  f o r t h e n a t u r a l d e t e r i o r a t i o n o f the body; t h e y may f o r t h e breakdown o f s o c i e t y . do not p r o v i d e t h e i r e x p e c t e d do more:  a l s o s e r v e as images  L i k e s o c i e t y , the c l o c k and the t o a s t e r s e r v i c e s , but, l i k e s o c i e t y , a g a i n ,  they  they a c t u a l l y c a u s e harm. Buchanan goes t o t h e s h e l f and p i c k s up t h e c l o c k . Buchanan: I t ' s g o i n g backwards! Something's wrong w i t h t h e works. (He_ t u r n s t h e c l o c k o v e r and d r o p s i t ) Oh!  45  E d i t h : What i s i t ? Buchanan: Gave me a shock i t d i d . R i g h t up my arm. (He puts the c l o c k b e s i d e the t o a s t e r on the t a b l e ) E d i t h : Twith a s h r u g ) They seem more l i k e murder weapons than g i f t s from a g r a t e f u l employer, (p. 177) A n o t h e r a s p e c t o f a u t h o r i t y i n t h i s p l a y i s Mrs. V e a l f o y ' s i n s i s t e n c e on c o n t r o l l i n g p e o p l e ' s e m o t i o n s .  She w i l l n o t t o l e r a t e any d e v i a t i o n  from h e r s t a n d a r d o f s l i g h t l y manic c h e e r f u l n e s s , Mrs. V e a l f o y : Repeat e v e r y t h i n g I say. I s t h a t c l e a r ? What were y o u t h i n k i n g j u s t now? Buchanan: N o t h i n g . Mrs. V e a l f o y : I don't a l l o w t h o u g h t s l i k e t h a t . ( p . 189) and i n s i s t s t h a t Ray a c q u i e s c e t o e v e r y t h i n g s h e s a y s . An a f f i r m a t i o n o f a n y t h i n g i s c h e e r i n g nowadays. Say 'Yes' a s o f t e n a s p o s s i b l e , Raymond. I always do. (p. 189) T h i s c o n t r o l o f p e o p l e ' s t h o u g h t s a n d e m o t i o n s , r e m i n i s c e n t o f George O r w e l l ' s 1984, r e l a t e s t o the image o f man as a machine. a l l o w e d t o be human:  Man i s n o t  he i s programmed t o be e f f i c i e n t and o b e d i e n t ,  to have no o r i g i n a l t h o u g h t s o r e m o t i o n s .  The c o n t r o l e x t e n d s n o t o n l y  t o f e e l i n g s but t o a l l a s p e c t s o f b e h a v i o u r . s h i p o r r e l a t i o n s h i p between t h e workers  Any p o s s i b i l i t y o f f r i e n d -  is effectively  prevented.  Buchanan and E d i t h have worked i n the same f i r m f o r f i f t y y e a r s , but have n e v e r met. E d i t h : Which g a t e do you use? Buchanan: Number e i g h t . E d i t h : Ah, w e l l , y o u s e e , t h a t e x p l a i n s i t . I've e n t e r e d by number f i f t e e n , (p. 154)  always  Whenever t h e employees do meet s o c i a l l y , Mrs. V e a l f o y i s on hand t o s p y , p r e v e n t c o n f i d e n c e s a n d break up i n c i p i e n t f r i e n d s h i p s . Mrs. V e a l f o y : What a r e you s a y i n g ? I s i t i n t e r e s t i n g ? Can I h e a r ? A r e y o u t a l k i n g a b o u t o l d times a s I t o l d y o u ? Buchanan: No. Mrs. V e a l f o y : Why not? What were you t a l k i n g about? Both o f you have a l o t t o l o o k back on. (Pause, s h a r p l y )  46  Answer my q u e s t i o n ! What were you t a l k i n g a b o u t ? (p. 187) As b e f i t s a symbol o f a u t h o r i t y , Mrs. V e a l f o y i s e v e r y w h e r e . m i s s i o n i s t o f i n d o u t t h e employees t h e i r l i v e s f o r them.  Her  i n n e r m o s t t h o u g h t s , and t o a r r a n g e  Her p o r t r a i t i s a v i c i o u s c a r i c a t u r e o f a t y p i c a l l y  o f f i c i o u s do-gooder; one c a n n o t see even a glimmer o f an h o n e s t w i s h to h e l p p e o p l e b e h i n d her d e l i g h t - i n p a t r o n i s i n g , p o n t i f i c a t i n g and organising.  O r t o n a t t a c k s p e t t y b u r e a u c r a c y , and i t s i n s i s t e n c e on a  m y r i a d o f r i d i c u l o u s r u l e s and r e g u l a t i o n s .  L i k e many o f f i c i a l s ,  Mrs.  V e a l f o y seems t o t a l l y o b s e s s e d w i t h t r i v i a , t o t h e e x c l u s i o n o f more important issues.  She c a n n o t d e a l w i t h a b s t r a c t i o n s such as D e b b i e ' s  w o r r y a b o u t pregnancy and m a r r i a g e , so she t a k e s r e f u g e i n i n s i g n i f i c a n t d e t a i l s , such as t h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f t h e wedding  bouquet.  As t h r o u g h no f a u l t o f y o u r own, t h e ceremony l o o k s l i k e b e i n g d e l a y e d , we'd b e t t e r make i t o f some l a r g e and showy bloom. L i l i e s won't be a p p r o p r i a t e under t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s . C h r y s a n t h e mums would do. Or even p e o n i e s . I f we l e a v e i t much l o n g e r i t w i l l have t o be s u n f l o w e r s , I'm a f r a i d , ( p . 170) Mrs. V e a l f o y shows a l l t h e q u a l i t i e s o f l u d i c r o u s l i t e r a l n e s s t h a t mark O r t o n ' s p o r t r a i t o f Dr. Ranee i n What t h e B u t l e r Saw.  Her comment  T h e r e ' s a q u e r y b e s i d e t h e sex o f t h e c h i l d . s t a y t h a t way (p. 169)  I hope i t won't  i s so r i d i c u l o u s l y l i t e r a l - m i n d e d as t o show us a woman d e v o i d o f any imagination or f e e l i n g s , a walking  computer.  The r e s t o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s a r e , as a l r e a d y m e n t i o n e d , s t e r e o t y p e s . E d i t h i s c o m p l e t e l y d e v o i d o f i n t e r e s t ; Debbie i s t o o n a i v e and s t u p i d t o be c r e d i b l e ; even Ray i s m e r e l y a weaker v e r s i o n o f S l o a n e o r Hal i n L o o t , an amoral y o u t h who l i v e s " f o r k i c k s . " be an Everyman:  Buchanan i s meant t o  y e t he i s by no means s y m p a t h e t i c .  The  compassion  47  shown by O r t o n i n t h i s p l a y i s s u r e l y u n d e r c u t by h i s t r e a t m e n t o f Buchanan. J u s t as we s h o u l d n o t t a k e t h e d o w n f a l l o f McLeavy i n L o o t as a t r a g e d y , because we a r e aware o f h i s h y p o c r i t i c a l q u a l i t i e s , we a r e meant t o see Buchanan's c h a r a c t e r i n t h e same l i g h t and be l e s s s y m p a t h e t i c t o him. George Buchanan i s e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y hidebound by c o n v e n t i o n .  He  wants t o marry E d i t h , t o "put t h i n g s t o r i g h t , " even t h o u g h , as she q u i t e h o n e s t l y s a y s , " I t ' s o n l y f o r show. y o u ' r e my age" (p. 180).  I t ' s a waste g e t t i n g m a r r i e d when  H i s narrow o u t l o o k on l i f e , t o t a l a b s o r p t i o n  i n t h e work e t h i c and l a c k o f a s e n s e o f humour a r e e v i d e n c e d by h i s conversations with  Ray.  Ray: I d o n ' t work. Buchanan: Not work!? (He s t a r e s , open-mouthed) What do you do then? Ray: I e n j o y m y s e l f . Buchanan: T h a t ' s a t e r r i b l e t h i n g t o do. (p. 167) C e r t a i n l y much o f O r t o n ' s s a t i r e i s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t t h e Buchanans o f t h e w o r l d , men who c o n s i d e r t h a t l i f e c o n s i s t s o n l y o f w o r k i n g e v e r y day and c o n f o r m i n g t o t h e c o n v e n t i o n s o f s o c i e t y . Buchanan i s shown t o be as u n i m a g i n a t i v e and l i t e r a l - m i n d e d as Mrs. V e a l f o y -Buchanan: I f y o u ' r e d e t e r m i n e d t o p e r s e v e r e w i t h women I can see no f u t u r e f o r you. T h e r e a r e o t h e r group a c t i v i t i e s , you know. Ray: Yes, b u t t h e r u l e s a r e i n F r e n c h . Buchanan: L e a r n t h e l a n g u a g e . A c q u i r e a f l u e n c y i n something e l s e . Ludo would be l e s s o f a s t r a i n i n the l o n g run (p. 176) -- an e l e m e n t o f h i s c h a r a c t e r , w h i c h , a l t h o u g h i t does n o t negate our p i t y f o r him, g r e a t l y d i m i n i s h e s i t . Moreover o u r sympathy i s l e s s e n e d s t i l l f u r t h e r by o u r r e a l i s a t i o n o f George's h y p o c r i s y .  His  language  becomes w o n d e r f u l l y e u p h e m i s t i c when d e s c r i b i n g h i s l i a i s o n w i t h E d i t h . And as l u c k would have i t , o u r way l a y t h r o u g h a meadow and t h e g r a s s was h i g h . (p. 154)  48  In a d d i t i o n , he i s s e n t e n t i o u s , s e n t i m e n t a l and q u i t e u n r e a s o n a b l e . S i n c e he f a t h e r e d i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d r e n h i m s e l f , one would n o t e x p e c t him t o pass judgement on t h e m o r a l s o f o t h e r s , y e t he i s i n s u f f e r a b l y p i o u s a b o u t Ray's i n d i s c r e t i o n s w i t h  Debbie:  Buchanan: I'm o u t r a g e d by i t , I am. C a r r y i n g on above o u r heads. I would n e v e r have s l e p t easy i f I'd known. E l e v e n o ' c l o c k on a weekday morning! How many o f us did t h a t kind o f thing? E d i t h : Not many w i t h o u t a p r i e s t had s a n c t i o n e d t h e a c t . Buchanan: And n o t o f t e n t h e n . E d i t h : I t ' s something o f a m i r a c l e we had a s u c c e e d i n g g e n e r a t i o n at a l l , we were so u n c o n s c i o u s o f t h a t s i d e o f t h i n g s . Buchanan: When I met you i t was a t l e a s t t h e a f t e r n o o n , (p. 175) The i r o n y w i t h which O r t o n i n v e s t s t h i s passage i s c l e a r ; we l a u g h u p r o a r i o u s l y a t t h i s comment, but w h o l e h e a r t e d l y condemn Buchanan f o r h i s hypocritical  attitude.  The p o r t r a i t o f Buchanan l e a d s t o t h e c e n t r a l p r o b l e m o f t h e p l a y -how can we f e e l sympathy o r compassion  for this figure? Obviously, i t  i s d i f f i c u l t t o do s o , y e t t h e t o n e o f t h e p l a y seems t o encourage a sympathetic response.  C e r t a i n l y we do n o t r e s p o n d c o n s i s t e n t l y w i t h  l a u g h t e r ; a l t h o u g h many o f t h e l i n e s a r e w i t t y and e p i g r a m m a t i c b e s t manner, t h e o v e r a l l e f f e c t o f t h e p l a y i s n o t funny.  i n Orton's  Indeed t h e  most e f f e c t i v e l i n e s a r e t h o s e t h a t convey a f e e l i n g o f s a d n e s s , o f l i f e h a v i n g p a s s e d us by. Buchanan s t a r e s a t t h e r i n g . Pause. S t a r e s i n t o E d i t h ' s face. Buchanan: But . . . (He shakes h i s head.) . . . you were so b e a u t i f u l . Tp. 154) O r t o n i s p a r t i c u l a r l y good a t d e m o n s t r a t i n g how t h e most t r i v i a l u n i m p o r t a n t i n c i d e n t s t a k e on g r e a t magnitude life.  i n an o t h e r w i s e  and  unremarkable  49  Edith:  I p a r t i c u l a r l y l i k e d t h e photos o f t h e c a n t e e n . I swept i t o u t once. When one o f t h e k i t c h e n s t a f f was away t h e y s e n t f o r me. Buchanan: They r e c o g n i s e d y o u r worth? E d i t h : Yes. Buchanan: T h e y ' r e good l i k e t h a t . ( p . 171) T h i s exchange i s i n c r e d i b l y s a d .  In o n l y a few words O r t o n b r i l l i a n t l y  demonstrates the wasteland o f E d i t h ' s l i f e . Thus t h e p r e v a i l i n g mood o f t h e p l a y i s one o f s a d n e s s , y e t t h e tone i s u n c e r t a i n . John R u s s e l l T a y l o r f i n d s t h a t " f o r once t h e s t y l e n e v e r seems i n danger o f t a k i n g o v e r c o n t r o l ; i t i s k e p t f i r m l y i n i t s place."^^  The s t y l e n e v e r seems i n danger o f t a k i n g o v e r c o n t r o l  because  t h e r e i s no e s t a b l i s h e d s t y l e ; t h e p l a y i s a h o t c h - p o t c h o f w i t and s e n t i m e n t . T h e r e i s no doubt t h a t t h e language has many o f O r t o n ' s  trademarks:  euphemisms, W i l d e a n epigrams and an a c c u r a t e e a r f o r c h a r a c t e r (and c l a s s ) d i s t i n c t i o n s ; however, i n k e e p i n g w i t h t h e u n c e r t a i n t o n e , t h e style fluctuates wildly.  A t t i m e s t h e language i s v e r y amusing  and  r e m i n i s c e n t o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e . E d i t h : B e f o r e t h e y d i e d t h e y p r o d u c e d a son. Buchanan: With whose h e l p ? E d i t h : A young g i r l o f i m p e c c a b l e c h a r a c t e r who worked i n a pub. Buchanan: Was i t l e g a l ? Edith: No. Buchanan: Which one f a t h e r e d t h e c h i l d ? E d i t h : No one knows, ( p . 155) Only Orton c o u l d w r i t e t h i s h i l a r i o u s passage.  He shows t h e f a l s i t y  o f such l a b e l s as " i m p e c c a b l e c h a r a c t e r " w i t h b r i l l i a n t c l a r i t y and wonderf u l humour.  The euphemisms i n t h i s p l a y a r e O r t o n a t h i s b e s t .  Ray's  comment a b o u t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Debbie I p u t something i n t o o p e r a t i o n a few months ago which l o o k s l i k e h a v i n g f a r - r e a c h i n g consequences ( p . 173) i s a m a r v e l l o u s way o f c o n f e s s i n g t o h a v i n g made her p r e g n a n t !  In a d d i t i o n ,  50  Mrs. V e a l f o y ' s c l i c h e s a r e an e x c e l l e n t v e r b a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f her s t e r e o t y p e d o p i n i o n s and c o n v e n t i o n a l  attitudes  —  He s h o u l d e r e d h i s s h a r e o f t h e burden w h i c h we a l l had i n t h o s e days (p. 160) —  and E d i t h ' s i n a n e c h a t t e r r e v e a l s t h e e m p t i n e s s b e n e a t h her words: So much l a u g h t e r , so much j o y i n p e o p l e ' s happy f a c e s a l l a r o u n d , (p. 191)  h e a r t s , so many  D e s p i t e t h e humour o f t h e l a n g u a g e , John Lahr i s r i g h t t h a t " t h e b l a s t o f i t s [ t h e p l a y ' s ] humour i s c u r i o u s l y muted by i t s n a t u r a l i s t i c f o r m a t . The i r o n y o f Ray's  e n t e r i n g the f i r m , marrying  Debbie and condemning  h i m s e l f to a l i f e l i k e Buchanan's i s much more sad than i t i s f u n n y . E d i t h ' s comment, " I t g o t him m a r r i e d . him"  Settled.  With a f u t u r e  before  (p. 191), f o l l o w i n g , as i t d o e s , r i g h t a f t e r t h e n o t i c e o f Buchanan's  death, i s q u i t e  poignant.  On t h e w h o l e , however, t h e p l a y i s n o t a c o m p l e t e s u c c e s s , t h e m i x t u r e o f s t y l e s work a g a i n s t each o t h e r :  since  t h e humour i s dimmed  by t h e sombre t o n e , w h i l e t h e compassion i s u n d e r c u t  by O r t o n ' s w i t .  O r t o n ' s next t e l e v i s i o n p l a y , The Erpingham Camp, a l s o p o r t r a y s s o c i e t y as a m i c r o c o s m , but t h i s time i n a f a r more o r i g i n a l s e t t i n g -- a h o l i d a y camp.  This s e t t i n g i s i n f i n i t e l y b e t t e r s u i t e d to Orton's unique q u a l i t i e s ;  the t o t a l i t a r i a n i s m of a u t h o r i t y i s heightened ings.  by t h e f r i v o l o u s  surround-  O r t o n seems more s u r e o f h i m s e l f , s i n c e t h e s t y l e i s c o n s i s t e n t  and t h e tone c l e a r l y f a r c i c a l .  The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t  is interesting  f o r t h e r e a s o n s m e n t i o n e d i n t h i s a n a l y s i s , but i s even more f a s c i n a t i n g when viewed as a f o r e s h a d o w i n g o f t h i s l a t e r p l a y .  CHAPTER  III  The p i n n a c l e o f O r t o n ' s a c h i e v e m e n t can be seen i n plays.  his  later  I t has been s a i d t h a t he f o u n d h i s m e t i e r as a f a r c e u r ,  and  t h a t he r e d e f i n e d and e x t e n d e d the b o u n d a r i e s o f f a r c e t o c r e a t e an image o f man  as a v i c t i m o f modern s o c i e t y , but no d i s c u s s i o n o f f a r c e as a  genre has been p r o v i d e d . of f a r c e :  T h e r e a r e few,  i f any, a d e q u a t e d e f i n i t i o n s  The C o n c i s e O x f o r d Companion t o the T h e a t r e terms i t "an  extreme form o f comedy i n w h i c h l a u g h t e r i s r a i s e d a t t h e e x p e n s e o f p r o b a b i l i t y , p a r t i c u l a r l y by h o r s e p l a y  and b o d i l y a s s a u l t , " ^ and  states  t h a t comedy d i f f e r s from f a r c e i n t h a t comedies " c o n t a i n some s u b t l e t y and c h a r a c t e r - d r a w i n g . " accurate  (although  These d e f i n i t i o n s a r e , t o a c e r t a i n  extent,  f a r c e need n o t r e l y on l a u g h t e r " r a i s e d a t t h e expense  o f p r o b a b i l i t y " ; i t i s o f t e n one o f the most l o g i c a l t h e a t r i c a l  forms),  but on the whole t h e y a r e w o e f u l l y  characters  inadequate.  Certainly farce  are l e s s f i n e l y drawn than t h o s e o f comedy, y e t , as E r i c B e n t l e y  points  o u t , t h e s e b r o a d e r p o r t r a i t s have an i m p o r t a n t f u n c t i o n . They [ f a r c e c h a r a c t e r s ] a r e human n a t u r e i n t h e a b s t r a c t , i n the mass, i n the r o u g h , i n the raw, i n a n y t h i n g but f i n e p e r s o n a l f l o w e r , . . . . They a r e monuments t o s t u p i d i t y , y e t , s u r e l y , d e l i b e r a t e r e m i n d e r s t h a t God l a v i s h e d s t u p i d i t y on the human r a c e w i t h a r e c k l e s s l y p r o d i g a l hand. They put us i n mind o f our own s t u p i d i t i e s . 3 In B e n t l e y s 1  v i e w , f a r c e d e m o n s t r a t e s the w o r s t a s p e c t s o f mankind,  and i s meant t o r e m i n d the s p e c t a t o r o f t h e s e e l e m e n t s i n h i s own  - 51 -  character.  52  The key p h r a s e i n the two d e f i n i t i o n s g i v e n above i s t h e q u a l i f i c a t i o n " p a r t i c u l a r l y by h o r s e p l a y and b o d i l y a s s a u l t . " The e f f e c t o f f a r c e i s t o r e d u c e man t o the l e v e l o f a body; he i s no l o n g e r a t h i n k i n g human b e i n g , but an automaton o r mere puppet.  T h i s e f f e c t i s b r o u g h t a b o u t by  the f r e n e t i c t o - a n d - f r o i n g o f t r a d i t i o n a l f a r c e :  t h e c h a r a c t e r s dash  a b o u t t h e s t a g e i n r e s p o n s e t o i m p u l s e s ; t h e y do n o t s t o p t o t h i n k about t h e i r a c t i o n s , but succumb t o the p r e s s u r e s o f t h e moment.  Farce characters  t h e r e f o r e have t h e i r mental c a p a b i l i t i e s n e g a t e d ; thus t h e i r s u p e r i o r i t y to b e a s t s i s e f f e c t i v e l y d e n i e d . . F a r c e r e f u t e s , and even makes n o n s e n s e o f , t h e c o n c e p t o f t h e s o u l ' s d i v i n i t y ; i t s t r e s s e s man's e x i s t e n c e as an a n i m a l . Tragedy p r e s e n t s a n o b l e r , more p r o f o u n d image o f man .... F a r c e c o n f r o n t s t h e c r u d e r k i n d s o f man's s t r e n g t h , a l l o f which he m i s u s e s . Man, says f a r c e , may o r may n o t be one o f the more i n t e l l i g e n t a n i m a l s , he i s c e r t a i n l y an a n i m a l O r t o n has, o f c o u r s e , r e d e f i n e d f a r c e i n t h e sense t h a t he "moves t h e l a u g h t e r o u t o f t h e p a r l o r and p u t s i t i n a m o r t u a r y p s y c h i a t r i c c l i n i c (What t h e B u t l e r Saw)."^  ( L o o t ) and a  However, t h i s i s a minor  a l t e r a t i o n , and o f no r e a l i m p o r t a n c e p e r s e ; i t i s O r t o n ' s use o f f a r c e as an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f h i s comment on s o c i e t y t h a t c o n s t i t u t e s his c o n t r i b u t i o n to the genre.  F a r c e i s n o t o n l y t h e form o r v e h i c l e  used t o p r e s e n t t h e s o c i a l comment; i n a d d i t i o n , because i t conveys an image o f man's a n i m a l i t y and s t r e s s e s t h e w o r s t elements o f h i s c h a r a c t e r , t h e f a r c e a c t s as p a r t o f O r t o n ' s v i s i o n o f s o c i e t y and adds s i g n i f i c a n t l y t o h i s commentary.  S i n c e f a r c e d e s t r o y s t h e myth o f man's  s u p e r i o r i n t e l l i g e n c e , i t i s , as John L a h r has p o i n t e d o u t , " t h e most a n a r c h i c s t a g e form."  Farce i s t h e r e f o r e a p e r f e c t t h e a t r i c a l  correlation  53  f o r O r t o n ' s view o f t h e a n a r c h i c s o c i e t y p r e s e n t e d i n t h e f o u r p l a y s in this chapter.  A n a r c h y i s a l s o t h e c e n t r a l c o n c e r n o f two o f t h e s e  p l a y s ; t h e S h a v i a n e p i g r a p h t o L o o t e x p r e s s e s t h i s theme: i s a game a t which t h e P o l i c e can b e a t y o u . " ^  "Anarchism  In a d d i t i o n , t h e p l o t  o f The Erpingham Camp can be seen as a p o l i t i c a l a n a l o g y i n w h i c h t h e forces o f anarchy r e v o l t a g a i n s t a t y r a n n i c a l despot.  " T h e s e two p l a y s ,  i n p a r t i c u l a r , show O r t o n ' s b r i l l i a n t use o f t h e g e n r e . F a r c e , as we have s e e n , s t r e s s e s t h e i m p e t u o s i t y and i m p u l s i v e n e s s o f man's a c t i o n s when he i s under p r e s s u r e . In f a r c e , p e o p l e a r e pushed o u t o f t h e i r minds, p r o p e l l e d by t h e momentum o f c i r c u m s t a n c e s , n o t f r e e w i l l . ° T h i s c r e a t e s a v i s i o n o f man's b e h a v i o u r which O r t o n d e v e l o p s t o g r e a t effect.  He d e m o n s t r a t e s t h a t i n f a r c e p e o p l e a p p e a r t o a c t i r r a t i o n a l l y ,  b u t t h e y a r e , i n r e a l i t y , m a n i p u l a t e d by c i r c u m s t a n c e s w h i c h p r o v i d e a l o g i c a l reason f o r t h e i r behaviour.  The l o g i c , o f c o u r s e , depends upon  a number o f f a c t o r s known o n l y t o t h e c h a r a c t e r , thus t h e o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s (and sometimes t h e a u d i e n c e ) , brand t h i s b e h a v i o u r i r r a t i o n a l o r even insane.  O r t o n i s a n x i o u s t o show how we make judgements  on o t h e r p e o p l e ' s  a c t i o n s w i t h o u t h a v i n g any r e a l knowledge o f what m o t i v a t e s them.  Dr.  P r e n t i c e ' s b e h a v i o u r i n What t h e B u t l e r Saw i s a p e r f e c t example o f t h i s . Dr. P r e n t i c e s t a r e s a b o u t him i n d e s p e r a t i o n . He s e e s a t a l l vase o f r o s e s . He removes t h e r o s e s and s t u f f s t h e underc l o t h i n g and one shoe i n t o t h e v a s e . The s e c o n d shoe won't go i n . He p a u s e s , p e r p l e x e d . He i s a b o u t t o r e p l a c e t h e r o s e s when Mrs. P r e n t i c e e n t e r s . . . D r . P r e n t i c e c o n c e a l s t h e shoe under h i s c o a t . Mrs. P r e n t i c e s t a r e s . He i s h o l d i n g t h e r o s e s . He g i v e s a^ f e e b l e smi1e and p r e s e n t s them t o h e r w i t h ia f l o u r i s h ^ A l l Dr. P r e n t i c e ' s a c t i o n s a r e s u p r e m e l y l o g i c a l ; however Mrs. P r e n t i c e , who i s n o t aware o f h i s d e s p e r a t e a t t e m p t t o c o v e r e v e r y t r a c e o f G e r a l d i n e ' s  54  e x i s t e n c e , q u i t e n a t u r a l l y assumes he i s g o i n g mad. s e r v e s two p u r p o s e s :  Thus t h e f a r c e  i t shows how s o c i e t y can l a b e l t h e most l o g i c a l  b e h a v i o u r 'mad', i f i t i s n o t aware what f o r c e s c a u s e p e o p l e t o a c t s t r a n g e l y ; i n a d d i t i o n , i t d e m o n s t r a t e s man's s t r u g g l e t o e x t r i c a t e h i m s e l f from a s e r i e s o f u n t e n a b l e p o s i t i o n s -- a view w h i c h c o r r e s p o n d s to O r t o n ' s v i s i o n o f man's p e r p e t u a l f i g h t f o r s u r v i v a l .  Therefore,  i n What t h e B u t l e r Saw, a p l a y a b o u t t h e b l u r r e d d i s t i n c t i o n between madness and s a n i t y , f a r c e i s used " t o o f f e r a p r e c i s e t h e a t r i c a l  correlative  to O r t o n ' s view o f s o c i a l i n s a n i t y , " ^ and thus c o n t r i b u t e s v i s u a l l y and c o n c e p t u a l l y t o t h e l e a d i n g theme. E r i c B e n t l e y has s t a t e d t h a t t h e r e i s a c o n n e c t i o n between f a r c e and dreams, i n t h a t "both show t h e d i s g u i s e d f u l f i l l m e n t o f r e p r e s s e d wishes."^  O r t o n ' s f a r c e s a r e more a n a l o g o u s t o n i g h t m a r e s t h a n dreams;  i n s t e a d o f (and i n What t h e B u t l e r Saw, as w e l l a s ) h a l f - n a k e d men  and  women romping around a bedroom, O r t o n ' s p l a y s p r e s e n t h o r r i f i c v i s i o n s o f b l o o d y r i o t s , s a w n - o f f hands, and t h e most u n s a c r o s a n c t , inhumane treatment of a corpse.  T h i s use o f f a r c e d e m o n s t r a t e s how  effectively  t h e genre can be used f o r s e r i o u s p u r p o s e s ; O r t o n ' s p l a y s a r e h i l a r i o u s l y f u n n y , but beneath t h e humour i s a p a i n f u l v i s i o n o f l i f e .  L o o t , O r t o n ' s second f u l l - l e n g t h p l a y , has been a n a l y s e d and d i s c u s s e d by c r i t i c s who have shown an i n c r e d i b l e d i v e r s i t y o f o p i n i o n s . Most a r e a g r e e d t h a t i t has "a number o f w i l d and o u t r a g e o u s moments o f 1 ?  f a r c i c a l humour"  b u t v e r y few c o n c u r a b o u t how t h e s e e f f e c t s a r e  c r e a t e d ; t h e r e i s no c o n c e n s u s o f o p i n i o n as t o t h e genre o f L o o t , o r t o t h e e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f O r t o n ' s commentary i n t h i s p l a y .  T h e s e two  55  t o p i c s a r e o f c o u r s e i n e x t r i c a b l y r e l a t e d ; c r i t i c s who a r e u n a b l e  to  come t o terms w i t h O r t o n ' s use o f f a r c e i n t h i s p l a y a r e e q u a l l y  unable  t o a p p r e c i a t e t h e l e v e l s and s u b t l e t y o f t h e s o c i a l comment. The l a c k o f agreement as t o L o o t ' s l i t e r a r y g e n r e can be seen the opinions of several l e a d i n g c r i t i c s .  from  M a r t i n E s s l i n sees t h e p l a y  as a drawing-room comedy, f o l l o w i n g t h e t r a d i t i o n o f R e s t o r a t i o n Comedy i n e l e g a n c e and e m p t i n e s s ,  but s p i c e d up by t h e a d d i t i o n o f some r e l i g i o u s  j o k e s and a " t h r i l l i n g " p l o t :  a s o r t o f " A r s e n i c and O l d Lace m o d e r n i s e d  and l a c e d w i t h a few c r a c k s a g a i n s t Roman C a t h o l i c s . " ^ A n o t h e r c r i t i c , Douglas Watt, u n w i t t i n g l y comes v e r y n e a r t o u n d e r s t a n d i n g  the  essence  o f L o o t when he d i s m i s s e s t h e p l a y as "Feydeau f a r c e m a s q u e r a d i n g as s o c i a l commentary."^  Simon T r u s s l e r a p p e a r s to u n d e r s t a n d  the genre  o f L o o t i n h i s r e f u s a l t o c l a s s i f y i t as "a s o r t o f l a t t e r day comedy o f manners:  a welfare s t a t e version of a l l those  s k i r m i s h e s i n v e r b a l gamesmanship."15  upper-class-oriented  However, Mr. T r u s s l e r w r o n g l y  m a i n t a i n s t h a t t h e e s s e n t i a l d i f f e r e n c e between R e s t o r a t i o n Comedy and O r t o n ' s p l a y s i s t h a t O r t o n ' s c h a r a c t e r s , u n l i k e t h o s e o f R e s t o r a t i o n Comedy, a r e n o t p r o u d l y c o n s c i o u s o f t h e i r a m o r a l i t y , but v e r y about t h e i r r e p u t a t i o n s .  concerned  Of c o u r s e , t h e code o f s o c i a l p r o p r i e t y e x i s t s  v e r y s t r o n g l y i n R e s t o r a t i o n Comedy; most c h a r a c t e r s a r e v i t a l l y  concerned  w i t h t h e i r r e p u t a t i o n s , thus Simon T r u s s l e r ' s a n a l y s i s seems based on a somewhat shaky u n d e r s t a n d i n g  of t h e a t r i c a l history.  Nevertheless,  because of h i s i n t e r v i e w with Orton, i n which Orton s t a t e d h i s admiration o f S t r i n d b e r g and T r a v e r s , ^ T r u s s l e r s u g g e s t s L o o t i s a s y n t h e s i s o f S t r i n d b e r g ' s "jagged f l a i r f o r e l a b o r a t i n g s e x u a l t e n s i o n , w i t h l a t t e r ' s [ T r a v e r s ' ] e x e m p l a r y use o f t h e f a r c i c a l v e h i c l e " : ^  the a  combination  56  w h i c h r e s u l t s i n a h y b r i d o f t r a g e d y and  farce.  I t i s an e r r o r t o s u g g e s t t h a t i n Loot,. O r t o n c r e a t e d a new he i s m e r e l y e x p l o i t i n g f a r c e t o i t s f u l l e s t p o t e n t i a l , t a k i n g  genre; the  t r a d i t i o n s and s t r e t c h i n g them t o t h e i r utmost l i m i t s . T h e r e can  be  l i t t l e d o u b t t h a t he i s w o r k i n g i n the f a r c i c a l t r a d i t i o n ; many o f E r i c Bentley's  comments on f a r c e can be a p p l i e d i n t o t o t o  Loot.  Farce  . . . b e g i n s by a c c e p t i n g the b l a n d , p l a c i d i m p o s i n g by k n o c k i n g the facade d o w n J 8  facade o f l i f e [ t h e n ] p r o c e e d s t o become f a r c i c a l  O r t o n f o l l o w s t h i s method c l o s e l y .  In L o o t , as i n E n t e r t a i n i n g  Mr.  S l o a n e , a p p e a r a n c e s a r e v i t a l , but t h e p r o p r i e t y o f t h e a p p e a r a n c e s i s o f t e n u n d e r c u t by the r e s t o f the s i t u a t i o n . beginning  Fay's b e h a v i o u r a t t h e  o f the p l a y seems s t r i c t l y c o n v e n t i o n a l ;  her s p e e c h e s show  an i n s i s t e n c e on p r o p r i e t y , but t h e a u d i e n c e i s aware o f how the f a c a d e i s . We know t h a t Mrs. McLeavy has  tenuous  b e e n dead o n l y t h r e e d a y s ,  t h a t Fay has l i t e r a l l y s t e p p e d i n t o her shoes ( o r s l i p p e r s a t l e a s t ) , and t h a t her p r e t e n s i o n s  to p r o p r i e t y are e x t r a o r d i n a r y  i n view o f her  past. My husbands d i e d . I've had seven a l t o g e t h e r . on a v e r a g e s i n c e I was s i x t e e n , (p. 14)  One a y e a r  The f a c a d e g r a d u a l l y d i s i n t e g r a t e s w i t h the a c t i o n , and f i n a l l y completely  collapses  w i t h Fay's c o n f e s s i o n . Mrs. McLeavy was d y i n g . Had e u t h a n a s i a n o t been a g a i n s t my r e l i g i o n I would have p r a c t i s e d i t . I n s t e a d I d e c i d e d t o murder h e r . (p. 67)  The e x t r a o r d i n a r y  -- and t o t a l l y o r i g i n a l -- a s p e c t o f O r t o n ' s work  i s t h a t h i s c h a r a c t e r s s t i l l c l i n g t o t h e remnants o f t h e i r d i g n i t y , s t i l l a s s u r e t h e m s e l v e s t h a t they a r e b e h a v i n g p o l i t e l y and w i t h  propriety,  even when i t i s o b v i o u s t o e v e r y o n e t h a t they a r e r e n e g a d e s , e g o t i s t i c a l  57  e v i l - d o e r s , and, i n some c a s e s , m u r d e r e r s .  T h i s d e v i c e i s seen t o  g r e a t e f f e c t a t t h e end o f L o o t , when Fay, who has by then  committed  a t l e a s t e i g h t murders, c o n n i v e d i n a bank r o b b e r y f o r a s h a r e o f t h e s t a k e , and been i n s t r u m e n t a l i n s e n d i n g t h e i n n o c e n t McLeavy t o p r i s o n , i s as p r i m and p r o p e r as e v e r . Fay: Hal: Fay:  When Dennis and I a r e m a r r i e d we'd have t o move o u t . Why? P e o p l e would t a l k . We must keep up a p p e a r a n c e s . (She r e t u r n s t o her p r a y e r s , her 1 i p s move s l o w l y . ) (p. 87)  Fay's r e j o i n d e r i s a m a s t e r p i e c e , b u t t h e s t a g e d i r e c t i o n i s a s t r o k e of genius.  O r t o n has shown t h e t o t a l d e m o l i t i o n o f t h e f a c a d e , y e t  i n t h e s e few words he c a p t u r e s t h e h y p o c r i s y , a m o r a l i t y and s u b l i m e selfishness of this s o c i e t y . Having e s t a b l i s h e d t h a t L o o t i s a f a r c e , w e can t u r n t o t h e problem o f t h e s o c i a l comment.  Martin E s s l i n represents the school o f thought  t h a t sees L o o t as too commercial acknowledges  f o r any v a l i d s o c i a l commentary, he  O r t o n ' s p o t e n t i a l , but f e e l s t h a t he does n o t f u l f i l l i t  in this play. I wish Joe O r t o n had remained i n h i s p r e v i o u s s p h e r e — which was no l e s s f u n n y , no l e s s s a t i r i c a l , no l e s s amusing -and i n a d d i t i o n , a l s o much more s a t i s f y i n g ; t h e s p h e r e o f drama as a v e h i c l e o f e x p r e s s i o n f o r someone who wants t o say something because he has s o m e t h i n g u r g e n t and i m p o r t a n t t o say.19 Ronald Bryden p r e s e n t s t h e o p p o s i t e c r i t i c a l o p i n i o n .  He m a i n t a i n s  t h a t L o o t i s marred because o f t h e t r u t h f u l n e s s o f t h e s a t i r e which " d i s t o r t s the f a b r i c of the fantasy,"  s i n c e i n Mr. Bryden's o p i n i o n ,  " s a t i r e c a n n o t both be a c c u r a t e and i n bad t a s t e . T h e s e comments a r e p e r c e p t i v e , y e t Bryden's r e f u s a l t o a c c e p t t h e b l e n d o f s a t i r e and f a r c e i s a n e g a t i o n o f O r t o n ' s o r i g i n a l i t y .  Why c a n n o t s a t i r e  58  be a c c u r a t e and i n bad t a s t e ? but by d i s g u i s i n g  i t i n "bad  O r t o n f u n c t i o n s by p r e s e n t i n g the t a s t e , " by c l o a k i n g  the t r u t h i n a mechanism  w h i c h p r o v o k e s l a u g h t e r and an i n s t i n c t i v e a c c e p t a n c e o f the as pure f a n t a s y .  truth,  situation  Then, d u r i n g the l a u g h t e r , awareness o f the r e a l i t y  e n c r o a c h e s on the r e a d e r and the shock o f r e c o g n i t i o n  is keenly  realised.  M a r t i n E s s l i n ' s s t a t e m e n t d e m o n s t r a t e s an i n a b i l i t y to see beyond i n i t i a l reaction;  he a c c e p t s O r t o n ' s work as f a n t a s y and c a n n o t  the  see  the s o c i a l comment beneath i t . I f we are unaware o f t h i s method o f O r t o n ' s , we m i s u n d e r s t a n d much o f the p l a y .  The most d a r i n g t h e a t r i c a l moment i n L o o t d e m o n s t r a t e s  this pattern. Truscott: ( S t a n d i n g o v e r Hal) Where's the H a l : In c h u r c h . ( T r u s c o t t k i c k s Hal v i o l e n t l y . Hal and p a i n . ) Truscott: Don't l i e t o me! H a l : I'm not l y i n g ! I t ' s i n c h u r c h ! Truscott: ( s h o u t i n g , k n o c k i n g Hal to the o t h e r p o l i t i c a l s y s t e m I'd have you tears! Hal:  (crying).  money? c r i e s out i n  f l o o r ) . Under any on the f l o o r i n  You've got me on the f l o o r i n  tears.  I n i t i a l l y we a c c e p t the humour o f t h i s r e p a r t e e , but g r a d u a l l y the o f i t dawns on us.  K a t h a r i n e Worth's a n a l y s i s  terror  horror  of t h i s scene misses t h i s  point. T r u s c o t t g e t t i n g Hal on the f l o o r and k i c k i n g him i s n ' t a p l e a s a n t s i g h t . But i t ' s kept a t a c a r e f u l d i s t a n c e , p a r t l y by b e i n g taken so f a s t , p a r t l y by the j a u n t i n e s s o f the d i a l o g u e a t the r e c e i v i n g end o f the v i o l e n c e . . . . So l o n g as the v i c t i m s can keep t h e i r end up w i t h t h i s s o r t o f s t o i c a l c a l m we can keep up our detachment too.22 Ms Worth i s c o r r e c t a b o u t the c a r e f u l d i s t a n c e and the i n i t i a l detachment the a c c e p t a n c e o f the b r u t a l i t y as f a n t a s y -- but the i m p o r t a n c e o f t h i s scene i s the r e a l i s a t i o n o f the u g l i n e s s and c r u e l t y .  The  audience  --  59  a c c e p t s the s i t u a t i o n w i t h o u t r e a l i s i n g i t , and i s s h o c k e d a t i t s ready acceptance  and l a u g h t e r when i t c l e a r l y r e c o g n i s e s t h e h o r r o r o f t h e  event. What s o c i a l comment i s Orton making?  Here, as i n t h e p r e v i o u s  we a r e p r e s e n t e d w i t h an i n d i c t m e n t o f modern s o c i e t y .  plays  However, whereas  i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e we saw t h e e f f e c t o f s o c i e t y s a t i r i s e d i n the b e h a v i o u r  o f c h a r a c t e r s , i n L o o t t h e demands o f i n s t i t u t i o n s a r e  the key t o t h e s a t i r e . The c e n t r a l theme i s n o t t h e a t t a c k on C a t h o l i c i s m p e r s e , o r even as John R u s s e l l T a y l o r s u g g e s t s , t h e a t t a c k on r e l i g i o u s h y p o c r i s y ; i t i s an a t t a c k on a s y s t e m t h a t m a n i p u l a t e s demands b l i n d , u n q u e s t i o n i n g  obedience,  people,  and t h a t c o n c e n t r a t e s  that  on  the  m i n u t i a e o f outward a p p e a r a n c e s t o t h e e x c l u s i o n o f t h e r e a l i t y w i t h i n . Thus Orton c h o o s e s C a t h o l i c i s m as a f o c a l p o i n t f o r h i s a t t a c k . A l l r e l i g i o n s and b e l i e f s can be used t o show the d i s c r e p a n c y  between  man's p r o f e s s i o n s o f goodness and h i s w i c k e d deeds, but C a t h o l i c i s m a l s o demands many outward forms o f b e l i e f , and i n d e e d , i f p r a c t i s e d b l i n d l y , can l e a d to u n q u e s t i o n i n g  acceptance  o f dogma.  Fay: She's t r e a t i n g i t as a s p e c i f i c a l l y C a t h o l i c p r o b l e m . McLeavy: She t r e a t s w a s h i n g her f e e t as a C a t h o l i c p r o b l e m . Fay: She has e v e r y r i g h t t o do s o . McLeavy: Don't P r o t e s t a n t s have f e e t then? Fay: The H o l y F a t h e r h a s n ' t g i v e n a r u l i n g on the s u b j e c t , and so, as f a r as I'm c o n c e r n e d , t h e y h a v e n ' t , (p. 9) It i s t h i s unquestioning  b e l i e f t h a t Orton w i s h e s t o d e m o l i s h ;  the b e l i e f  t h a t a u t h o r i t y i s always r i g h t , man's l a c k o f a b i l i t y t o r e a l i s e t h e c o r r u p t i o n and e v i l s u r r o u n d i n g sacredness,  him.  the B r i t i s h p o l i c e m a n ,  By f o c u s s i n g on t h a t  acme o f  f o r the r e s t o f h i s a t t a c k ,  s t r i k e s a t t h e h e a r t o f p r e s e n t day s o c i e t y .  L o o t shows t h e  Orton greed  and c o r r u p t i o n l u r k i n g b e h i n d t h e masks o f r e l i g i o n and r e s p e c t f o r  60  law and o r d e r . C r i t i c s have n o t e d t h a t McLeavy, t h e o n l y i n n o c e n t f i g u r e , i s t h e v i c t i m i n L o o t , but have n o t emphasised t h e r e a s o n s why he i s v i c t i m i s e d . He i s n o t t a k e n t o p r i s o n and " a c c i d e n t a l l y k i l l e d " b e c a u s e o f h i s i n n o c e n c e , but because o f h i s n a i v e t e , h i s extreme g u l l i b i l i t y . the o n l y f i g u r e i n t h e p l a y w i t h a b e l i e f i n r e l i g i o n and an  He i s  unshakeable  f a i t h i n t h e j u s t i c e o f t h e law; t h u s he must l e a r n t h e t r u t h and s u f f e r . His f i n a l c r y p o i n t s t o t h e f u t i l i t y o f b e l i e f and t o t h e h o r r i f y i n g and a r b i t r a r y c r u e l t y o f s o c i e t y . I'm i n n o c e n t ! I'm i n n o c e n t ! Oh, what a t e r r i b l e t h i n g t o happen t o a man who's been k i s s e d by t h e Pope. (p. 86) O r t o n i s c o n c e r n e d t o show how t h e s e i n s t i t u t i o n s e x i s t o n l y t o demand o b e d i e n c e from i n d i v i d u a l s , n o t t o p r o t e c t them. A u t h o r i t y , i n the shape o f t h e Law o r t h e Church i s seen as b u r e a u c r a t i c , u n t h i n k i n g and inhuman.  The n i g h t m a r e o f t h e b u r e a u c r a c y o f a u t h o r i t y i s b r i l l i a n t l y  conveyed by O r t o n ' s d i a l o g u e . McLeavy: I want t o see someone i n a u t h o r i t y . T r u s c o t t : I am i n a u t h o r i t y . You can see me. McLeavy: Someone h i g h e r . T r u s c o t t : You can see whoever you l i k e , p r o v i d i n g you c o n v i n c e me f i r s t t h a t y o u ' r e j u s t i f i e d i n s e e i n g them. ( p . 86) The s a t i r e on a u t h o r i t y e x t e n d s t o t h e r e d t a p e o f o f f i c i a l s and b u r e a u crats.  T r u s c o t t , l i k e many o t h e r c i v i l s e r v a n t s , i s a t a l o s s when  c o n f r o n t e d w i t h an unusual s i t u a t i o n .  When he d i s c o v e r s L100,000 s t o l e n  from t h e bank, he i s n o t i m m e d i a t e l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h a p p r e h e n d i n g t h e c r i m i n a l s , o r w i t h d i s c o v e r i n g t h e t r u t h o f t h e s i t u a t i o n , but i s w o r r i e d about t h e i r r e g u l a r i t y o f t h e e x p e r i e n c e ! How d a r e you i n v o l v e me i n a s i t u a t i o n f o r which no memo has been i s s u e d . In a l l my e x p e r i e n c e I've n e v e r come a c r o s s a c a s e l i k e i t . E v e r y one o f t h e s e f i v e r s b e a r s a p o r t r a i t  61  o f t h e Queen. I t ' s d r e a d f u l t o c o n t e m p l a t e t h e i s s u e s r a i s e d . Twenty t h o u s a n d t i a r a s and twenty t h o u s a n d s m i l e s b u r i e d a l i v e ! She's a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l monarch, you know. She c a n ' t answer back. (p. 82) O r t o n ' s v i t u p e r a t i v e p o r t r a y a l o f T r u s c o t t i s no doubt i n f l u e n c e d by his various unpleasant  encounters  w i t h the p o l i c e f o r c e .  However, t h e  enormous amounts o f power and t r u s t v e s t e d i n t h e E n g l i s h p o l i c e f o r c e can be e x t r e m e l y  dangerous i n the hands o f a r u t h l e s s , i g n o r a n t  and  c o r r u p t i n d i v i d u a l . T h e r e i s a l m o s t c e r t a i n l y a modicum o f t r u t h i n t h i s d i a l o g u e between T r u s c o t t and  Fay.  Fay: I c a n ' t be had f o r a n y t h i n g . You've no p r o o f . T r u s c o t t : When I make o u t my r e p o r t I s h a l l say t h a t y o u ' v e . g i v e n me a c o n f e s s i o n . I t c o u l d p r e j u d i c e y o u r c a s e i f I have t o f o r g e one. Fay: I s h a l l deny t h a t I've c o n f e s s e d . T r u s c o t t : Perjury i s a serious crime. Fay: Have you no r e s p e c t f o r t h e t r u t h ? T r u s c o t t : We've a s a y i n g under t h e b l u e lamp 'Waste t i m e on t h e t r u t h and y o u ' l l be p o u n d i n g t h e b e a t u n t i l t h e day you r e t i r e . ' Fay: The B r i t i s h p o l i c e f o r c e used t o be run by men o f i n t e g r i t y . T r u s c o t t : T h a t i s a m i s t a k e w h i c h has been r e c t i f i e d , (pp. 67-8) The  treatment  o f T r u s c o t t i s v e r y s i m i l a r t o t h a t o f Fay.  the facade of righteousness  We see b e n e a t h  t o t h e h y p o c r i s y and e v i l , y e t T r u s c o t t i s  always c o n c e r n e d w i t h h i s r e p u t a t i o n . McLeavy: Has no one c o n s i d e r e d my f e e l i n g s i n a l l t h i s ? T r u s c o t t : What p e r c e n t a g e do you want? . . . Now t h e n , s i r , be r e a s o n a b l e . What has j u s t taken p l a c e i s p e r f e c t l y s c a n d a l o u s and had b e t t e r go no f u r t h e r than t h e s e t h r e e w a l l s . I t ' s not e x p e d i e n t f o r t h e g e n e r a l p u b l i c t o have i t s c o n f i d e n c e i n t h e p o l i c e f o r c e u n d e r m i n e d , (p. 83) The c o o l n e s s o f t h i s f i n a l s t a t e m e n t echoes Fay's t o t a l s e l f - a b s o r p t i o n . Both t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s see n o t h i n g wrong w i t h t h e i r methods o f l i v i n g as l o n g as they a r e not found out.  M o r a l i t y i n t h i s s o c i e t y bears  r e s e m b l a n c e t o t h e f a c t s , o n l y to a p p e a r a n c e s .  no  62  O r t o n ' s view o f m o r a l i t y and i t s debasement i n t h e s o c i e t y o f t h i s play informs h i s treatment o f r e l i g i o n .  C a t h o l i c i s m i n Loot a f f e c t s  o n l y e x t e r n a l m o r a l i t y ; Hal can s t e a l L-100,000, can s u g g e s t b u r y i n g t h e money i n a c o f f i n and dumping h i s mother's  corpse i n a desolated spot,  b u t r e f u s e s t o u n d r e s s h e r dead body. I am a C a t h o l i c . I c a n ' t u n d r e s s h e r . She's a r e l a t i v e . I can go t o H e l l f o r i t . ( p . 21) In t h e same way Fay a p p e a r s t o be d e v o u t l y r e l i g i o u s .  She i s c o n s t a n t l y  s a y i n g h e r p r a y e r s ; she has a r o s a r y and a c r u c i f i x -- t h e e x t e r n a l t r a p p i n g s o f r e l i g i o n -- y e t has r e g u l a r l y "knocked i t o f f " w i t h Dennis under h e r p i c t u r e o f t h e S a c r e d H e a r t . tool.  R e l i g i o n i s t r e a t e d as a u s e f u l  Man may s i n , r e p e n t , and s i n a g a i n .  O r t o n , as a l w a y s , p r o v i d e s  an e x a g g e r a t e d a c c o u n t o f t h i s t y p e o f b e h a v i o u r . I s h a l l accompany my f a t h e r t o C o n f e s s i o n t h i s e v e n i n g . In o r d e r t o purge my s o u l o f t h i s a f t e r n o o n ' s e v e n t s .... A f t e r w a r d s I ' l l t a k e y o u t o a r e m a r k a b l e b r o t h e l I've f o u n d . R e a l l y r e m a r k a b l e . Run by t h r e e P a k i s t a n i s aged between t e n and f i f t e e n , ( p . 79) T h i s may be an extreme example, b u t i t i s p e r i l o u s l y c l o s e t o t h e way many p e o p l e view c o n f e s s i o n . Fay's b e h a v i o u r i n t r o d u c e s a s a t i r i c a t t a c k on a n o t h e r i n s t i t u t i o n : t h e n u r s i n g p r o f e s s i o n . L i k e T r u s c o t t , she p e r v e r t s t h e e s s e n t i a l q u a l i t i e s o f her p r o f e s s i o n ; i n s t e a d o f t e n d i n g h e r p a t i e n t s , she robs and murders them.  The s a t i r e on a l l t h e s e i n s t i t u t i o n s which s h o u l d  c a r e f o r p e o p l e , b u t a r e i n d i f f e r e n t t o t h e i r w e l l - b e i n g , can be seen as an a t t a c k on t h e W e l f a r e S t a t e .  The W e l f a r e S t a t e i s supposed t o  l o o k a f t e r t h e weaker members o f s o c i e t y ; however, a l l t o o o f t e n i t dehumanises t h e s e p e o p l e , s o t h a t t h e w e l f a r e o f weaker i n d i v i d u a l s i s o f l e s s a c c o u n t than t h e s e l f - s e e k i n g a t t i t u d e s o f t h o s e who w i e l d c o n t r o l .  63  L o o t p r e s e n t s a v i s i o n o f a d e c a y i n g s o c i e t y , a moral u n i v e r s e which i s t o t a l l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h a p p e a r a n c e s , but which i s r o t t e n t o t h e c o r e . The t r e a t m e n t o f Mrs. McLeavy's c o r p s e emphasises  the inhumanity  and  b e s t i a l i t y o f man's b e h a v i o u r . Your s e n s e o f detachment i s t e r r i f y i n g , l a d . Most p e o p l e would a t l e a s t f l i n c h upon s e e i n g t h e i r mother's eyes and t e e t h handed round l i k e n u t s a t C h r i s t m a s , (p. 84) T h i s s t a t e m e n t g a i n s g r e a t l y i n i r o n i c a l v a l u e when we r e a l i s e i t i s spoken by T r u s c o t t , whose s e n s e o f detachment  i s so marked t h a t he  does n o t even r e c o g n i s e t h e g l a s s eye as a p a r t o f t h e human body. (He h o l d s i t t o t h e 1 i g h t i n o r d e r t o g e t a b e t t e r view. P u z z l e d . He s n i f f s ert i t . He_ h o l d s r t c l o s e t o h i s e a r . He r a t t l e s i t T ) [p*. 58T" I t has been shown t h a t one o f t h e e f f e c t s o f f a r c e i s t o r e d u c e man t o a body; O r t o n d e v e l o p s t h i s e f f e c t t o i t s v e r y l i m i t s by h i s use o f Mrs. McLeavy's c o r p s e as a t h e a t r i c a l image o f man's d e h u m a n i s a t i o n . Her body i s m a n i p u l a t e d i n t o . a number o f e x t r e m e l y u n c o m f o r t a b l e  and  u n d i g n i f i e d p o s i t i o n s ; t h e s e m a n i p u l a t i o n s may perhaps be seen as a c o r r e l a t i o n t o t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y c o n t o r t i o n s which O r t o n c o n s i d e r s t o be p a r t o f man's s t r u g g l e f o r s u r v i v a l .  Moreover t h e d i s i n t e g r a t i o n  o f t h e c o r p s e ( h e r eyes f a l l o u t , her t e e t h a r e removed) may w e l l s e r v e as a g r o t e s q u e r e m i n d e r o f t h e d i s i n t e g r a t i o n o f s o c i e t y . The c e n t r a l image f o r c o r r u p t i o n i n t h i s p l a y i s d e s i r e f o r money, as s u g g e s t e d by t h e t i t l e , L o o t .  However, as i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e ,  g r e e d and s e x u a l i t y a r e c l o s e l y r e l a t e d :  Dennis wants h i s s h a r e o f  t h e money t o impress Fay i n t o m a r r y i n g him, Hal dreams o f o p e n i n g a b r o t h e l w i t h h i s l o o t , and Fay, l i k e S l o a n e , r e g a r d s her s e x u a l i t y as a p u r e l y p r a c t i c a l means o f a s s u r i n g h e r s e l f o f a c o m f o r t a b l e and w e a l t h y existence.  A l l the c h a r a c t e r s i n t h i s play correspond to Bentley's  64  comments a b o u t f a r c e c h a r a c t e r s ; they a r e n o t w e l l - r o u n d e d , dimensional  figures.  three-  However, i t i s a m i s t a k e t o d i s m i s s them as  wooden; each has r e c o g n i z a b l e human o r s o c i e t a l a t t r i b u t e s .  completely  Truscott  has been d i s c u s s e d i n some d e t a i l ; he i s p e r h a p s t h e l e a s t i n t e r e s t i n g o f the c h a r a c t e r s , an a r c h e t y p a l a u t h o r i t y f i g u r e , a p p a l l i n g i n h i s i g n o r a n c e , y e t c l e v e r enough to be d a n g e r o u s .  McLeavy i s h i s f o i l ,  as such i s p r o b a b l y the most complex c h a r a c t e r i n the p l a y .  and  He a p p e a r s  t o be a good s o l i d c i t i z e n : Oh, we can r e l y on p u b l i c s e r v a n t s t o behave t h e m s e l v e s . . . As a good c i t i z e n I i g n o r e s t o r i e s w h i c h b r i n g o f f i c i a l d o m i n t o d i s r e p u t e , (p. 29) However, the b a l a n c e o f L o o t would be s p o i l e d i f we were t o see McLeavy's d o w n f a l l as a t r a g e d y , so O r t o n makes i t c l e a r t h a t he i s by no means a completely virtuous character.  He, l i k e e v e r y o n e e l s e i n t h e p l a y ,  i s impossibly s e l f i s h ; his only concern about h i s wife's death i s c a t a l o g u i n g t h e v a r i e t y o f r o s e s on t h e w r e a t h s . Do you know what h i s o n l y comment was on my mother's d e a t h ? ... He s a i d he was g l a d she'd d i e d a t t h e r i g h t season f o r r o s e s , (p. 11) T h i s a t t i t u d e c a s t s an i n t e r e s t i n g l i g h t on t h e v a l i d i t y o f McLeavy's professed C h r i s t i a n i t y .  Beneath h i s p i o u s e x t e r i o r i s a v e r y smug,  s e l f - s a t i s f i e d a t t i t u d e ; an a s p e c t b r i l l i a n t l y d e l i n e a t e d by O r t o n i n n e o - B i b l i c a l p h r a s e s and e v a n g e l i c a l  language.  The s m e l l o f c o r r u p t i o n and the i n s t r u m e n t s o f d e a t h them, t h e r i c h e s b e f o r e them. (p. 19)  behind  His p o m p o s i t y and s e l f - c o n g r a t u l a t o r y a t t i t u d e i s c l e a r l y seen i n h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of the funeral procession. We s e t o f f i n h i g h s p i r i t s . The w e a t h e r was humid, a heat m i s t c o v e r e d t h e sky. The r o a d t o the g r a v e y a r d l a y u p h i l l .  65  I t was a sad o c c a s i o n f o r me. In s p i t e o f t h i s I k e p t a t i g h t h o l d on my e m o t i o n s , r e f u s i n g t o show t h e e x t e n t o f my l o s s . . . . We g o t a d m i r i n g g l a n c e s f o r t h e f l o w e r s and s y m p a t h e t i c nods f o r me. ( p . 49) A l t h o u g h he may be l e s s u n s c r u p u l o u s than t h e o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s , McLeavy i s n o t immune t o t h e p r e v a i l i n g p a s s i o n o f L o o t -- g r e e d .  His a t t i t u d e  towards money i s t o r e s i s t s p e n d i n g i t , r a t h e r than t r y i n g t o o b t a i n v a s t amounts. Come on! W e ' l l have a damaged motor horn t o pay f o r n e x t ! . . . The number o f p e o p l e s t a y i n g away from t h e poor woman's f u n e r a l i s h e a r t b r e a k i n g . And I h i r e d a de l u x e model c a r because t h e y ' r e r o o m i e r . I c o u l d ' v e s a v e d m y s e l f t h e expense, (p. 32) Even though a l l t h e c h a r a c t e r s resemble t h o s e o f t r a d i t i o n a l they d i f f e r g r e a t l y from t h i s genre i n t h e i r use o f l a n g u a g e .  farce, The  language o f f a r c e i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y " l a c k i n g i n s u b t l e t y " ; ^ O r t o n ' s language i s b r i l l i a n t , i n g e n i o u s , and above a l l , s u b t l e .  Since the  c h a r a c t e r s a r e more t h e m a t i c than r e a l i s t i c , t h e l a n g u a g e echoes t h i s emphasis.  As we have s e e n , O r t o n m a s t e r f u l l y c r e a t e s t h e l a n g u a g e o f  b u r e a u c r a c y , h y p o c r i s y and g r e e d .  He i s o b v i o u s l y e n j o y i n g p l a y i n g  with v a r i o u s s t y l e s o f language i n t h i s p l a y ; the speeches o f the c h a r a c t e r s o f t e n parody t h e m s e l v e s .  T h e r e f o r e T r u s c o t t speaks i n a  parody o f d e t e c t i v e j a r g o n : My methods o f d e d u c t i o n can be l e a r n e d by anyone w i t h a keen eye and a q u i c k b r a i n . When I shook y o u r hand I f e l t a roughness on one o f y o u r wedding r i n g s . A roughness I a s s o c i a t e w i t h powder burns and s a l t . The two t o g e t h e r s p e l l a gun and sea a i r . ( p . 26) as w e l l as i n t h e b r i l l i a n t o f f i c i a l language we have a l r e a d y n o t e d . The e u p h e m i s t i c d i s l o c a t i o n s t h a t O r t o n uses t o such g r e a t e f f e c t i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e a r e n o t m i s s i n g from L o o t , but t h e i r use i s  66  much more r e s t r i c t e d i n t h i s p l a y .  H a l , f o r example, has n e v e r h e a r d  of euphemism; we know he i s i n c a p a b l e o f l y i n g , " I t ' s a g a i n s t my n a t u r e , " but  he a l s o seems u n a b l e t o use l a n g u a g e t h a t has any p r e t e n s i o n s t o  gentility.  The d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i s i d e a l b r o t h e l i s a m a s t e r p i e c e o f  b l a t a n t e a r t h i n e s s , and i n c i d e n t a l l y r e d u c e s t h e moral / p o l i t i c a l  issue  of t h e c o l o u r b a r t o a m a t t e r o f s e x u a l p r e f e r e n c e . I'd have a spade b i r d . I d o n ' t a g r e e w i t h t h e c o l o u r b a r . And a F i n n i s h b i r d . I ' d make them k i p t o g e t h e r . To b r i n g out t h e c o n t r a s t . . . . I ' d have a m i d g e t . And a t a l l b i r d w i t h b i g t i t s . ( p . 38) Fay i s , o f c o u r s e , t h e m a s t e r o f t h e e u p h e m i s t i c d i s l o c a t i o n ; she m a i n t a i n s a w o n d e r f u l a p p e a r a n c e o f g o o d - b r e e d i n g , even when t a l k i n g o f h e r seamy past. And then I l i v e d under s t r e s s n e a r Penzance f o r some t i m e . I've had t r o u b l e w i t h i n s t i t u t i o n s , ( p . 14) What a b r i l l i a n t l y g e n t e e l way o f s u g g e s t i n g t h a t she has s p e n t some time i n p r i s o n ! The a n a r c h i c a s p e c t o f l a n g u a g e i s v e r y i m p o r t a n t t o L o o t . the  Since  p l a y shows t h e a n a r c h y and c o l l a p s e o f s o c i e t y , t h e l a n g u a g e r e f l e c t s  t h i s moral breakdown.  T h i s i s seen c l e a r l y i n t h e s e r i e s o f " d i s l o c a t e d "  q u e s t i o n s and answers which o c c u r when a q u e s t i o n i s answered on an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t moral p l a n e f r o m t h e one i t was a s k e d on. McLeavy: D e s p i t e a p p e a r a n c e s t o t h e c o n t r a r y , c r i m i n a l s a r e poor s l e e p e r s . Fay: How do y o u s l e e p , H a r o l d ? Hal: A l o n e , ( p . 17) Fay's q u e s t i o n i s o b v i o u s l y i n t e n d e d t o s a t i s f y h e r s u s p i c i o n o f H a l ' s g u i l t ; Hal m i s u n d e r s t a n d s h e r , w i l f u l l y o r o t h e r w i s e , and so c r e a t e s this dislocation.  The same e f f e c t c a n o c c u r i n c o n v e r s a t i o n . Fay i s  c a s t i g a t i n g Hal f o r h i s l a s c i v i o u s b e h a v i o u r , and i n an a t t e m p t t o  67  c o n v e r t him t o "a d e c e n t l i f e " she q u e s t i o n s him a b o u t h i s f u t u r e . Fay: Hal: Fay:  What w i l l you do when y o u ' r e o l d ? I shall die. I see y o u ' r e d e t e r m i n e d t o run t h e gamut o f a l l e x p e r i e n c e , (p. 12)  N e i t h e r H a l ' s r e p l y t o Fay, n o r h e r r e s p o n s e t o him, i s on t h e same l e v e l o f m o r a l i t y and u n d e r s t a n d i n g .  T h i s t e c h n i q u e emphasises  n i g h t m a r e q u a l i t y o f t h e p l a y , t h e l a c k o f communication  the  between c h a r a c t e r s .  I t i s a n o t h e r image f o r t h e a n a r c h y o f s o c i e t y . Loot i s a wonderful play.  I t shows r e m a r k a b l e c o n s i s t e n c y :  the  g e n r e , f a r c e , i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f O r t o n ' s v i s i o n o f a n a r c h y ; t h e major d r a m a t i c t e c h n i q u e , t h e d i s l o c a t i o n between c h a r a c t e r s ' p r o t e s t a t i o n s and t h e i r b e h a v i o u r , i s echoed by t h e " d i s l o c a t i n g " use o f a t r a d i t i o n a l l y l i g h t - h e a r t e d genre t o communicate a s e r i o u s message.  Loot represents  a g r e a t t h e a t r i c a l advance f o r O r t o n s i n c e i t n o t o n l y e x t e n d s h i s s k i l l s , but r e j u v e n a t e s and expands t h e b o u n d a r i e s o f f a r c e i n t h e t h e a t r e .  The Erpingham Camp was w r i t t e n i n 1965, i m m e d i a t e l y a f t e r L o o t , and was p e r f o r m e d on t e l e v i s i o n on 27th June 1966, t h r e e months b e f o r e L o o t reopened i n London a t t h e J e a n e t t a Cochrane t h e a t r e . The f a i l u r e o f the i n i t i a l p r o v i n c i a l t o u r o f L o o t ( i t opened i n F e b r u a r y and c l o s e d l e s s than a month l a t e r ) , and t h e o r i g i n a l a d v e r s e c r i t i c a l  reaction  t o E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e had saddened and d i s g u s t e d O r t o n t o such an e x t e n t t h a t he d e t e r m i n e d t o w r i t e no more s t a g e p l a y s . I s h a l l throw t h e p l a y [ L o o t ] on t h e f i r e . And I s h a n ' t w r i t e a t h i r d s t a g e p l a y . I s h a l l e a r n my l i v i n g on T.V.24 F o r t u n a t e l y , however, L o o t d i d reopen i n London, and was a c r i t i c a l box-office success.  R e a s s u r e d by  and  t h i s , O r t o n n o t o n l y wrote more s t a g e  68  p l a y s , he a l s o r e w r o t e The Erpingham Camp f o r the s t a g e .  The t e x t  under d i s c u s s i o n i s thus t h a t o f t h e v e r s i o n p r o d u c e d ( w i t h The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r ) i n t h e Royal C o u r t d o u b l e b i l l Crimes o f P a s s i o n i n June 1967. John L a h r p r o v i d e s an i l l u m i n a t i n g example o f O r t o n ' s i n d e b t e d n e s s to B r e c h t i a n t e c h n i q u e s i n an e a r l i e r d r a f t o f t h e p l a y . O r t o n . . . then d e v e l o p e d i t [The Erpingham Camp] as a B r e c h t i a n e p i c c o m p l e t e ( i n e a r l y s t a g e s ) w i t h i l l u s t r a t i v e b a n n e r s such as SCENE 5: AN EXAMPLE OF THE ACTIVE L I F E OF THE CHURCH. ERPINGHAM PREPARES HIMSELF TO MEET THE PEOPLE. THEOLOGY DISCUSSED. THE PADRE PROVES THAT CHRISTIANITY IS ESSENTIAL TO GOOD H E A L T H . 25  I t i s g e n e r a l l y a g r e e d t h a t t h e i d e a f o r t h i s p l a y came from L i n d s a y Anderson  — he was d o i n g a f i l m which he'd g o t f r o m t h e Bacchae. i f I c o u l d do a n y t h i n g w i t h i t "  —  He a s k e d  and t h a t when Anderson d e c i d e d n o t t o use O r t o n ' s s c r e e n p l a y , O r t o n  d e v e l o p e d i t i n t o The Erpingham Camp, which was then b r o a d c a s t as p a r t o f a s e r i e s o f p l a y s e n t i t l e d "The Seven Deadly S i n s . "  The i n f l u e n c e  o f t h e Bacchae i s o b v i o u s i n t h e s t o r y o f t h e f o r c e s o f a n a r c h y r e b e l l i n g a g a i n s t a t y r a n n i c a l d i c t a t o r and c a u s i n g h i s d e a t h , but few c r i t i c s have m e n t i o n e d O r t o n ' s e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y B r e c h t i a n t r e a t m e n t o f t h e theme. Even though t h e i l l u s t r a t i v e banners no l o n g e r e x i s t i n t h e s t a g e v e r s i o n , a B r e c h t i a n tone seems t o p e r v a d e t h e p l a y .  This effect i s achieved  by two c e n t r a l d e v i c e s : t h e i n s i s t e n c e t h a t "no a t t e m p t must be made 27 to r e p r o d u c e t h e v a r i o u s l o c a l e s i n a n a t u r a l i s t i c manner,"  and t h e  v i t a l i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e m u s i c , which s e r v e s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y t o e l e v a t e (and thus r i d i c u l e ) t h e a c t i o n s and c h a r a c t e r s , and t h e r e f o r e d i s t a n c e s the audience.  These d e v i c e s r e p r e s e n t t h e e x t e r n a l e l e m e n t s o f B r e c h t ,  69  as i m p e r f e c t l y u n d e r s t o o d by s e v e r a l e x p o n e n t s o f E n g l i s h t h e a t r e . However, t h e r e i s a more i m p o r t a n t B r e c h t i a n i n f l u e n c e i n t h e ' p a r a b l e ' s t r u c t u r e o f t h e p l a y and i n t h e p o l i t i c a l n a t u r e o f t h e drama.  Although  t h e p l a y may a p p e a r t o be a p o l i t i c a l a l l e g o r y , O r t o n i s n o t p r a i s i n g the v i r t u e s o f a n a r c h y ; t h e a u d i e n c e i s n o t t o i d e n t i f y w i t h e i t h e r p a r t y i n t h e s t r u g g l e , but s h o u l d be aware o f t h e d e f e c t s o f b o t h . " A l i e n a t i o n " t e c h n i q u e s thus mock t h e p r e t e n s i o n s o f Erpingham ( a l t h o u g h t h e y a r e by no means n e c e s s a r y f o r a r e a l i s a t i o n o f h i s p r i d e and d i c t a t o r i a l q u a l i t i e s ) , and p r e v e n t o u r s y m p a t h i s i n g w i t h t h e f o r c e s o f a n a r c h y , as p e r s o n i f i e d by E i l e e n and Kenny.  I t i s c l e a r , however,  t h a t t h e s e t e c h n i q u e s do n o t r e a l l y c o n t r i b u t e t o t h e r e v i s e d v e r s i o n of the p l a y , s i n c e Orton's e x c e l l e n t c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n secures our detachment by i t s own m e r i t s .  S i n c e t h e B r e c h t i a n i n f l u e n c e s were s t r o n g e r  i n d r a f t s o f The Erpingham Camp, one may h y p o t h e s i s e t h a t t h e i n i t i a l f a i l u r e o f L o o t l e d O r t o n t o e x p e r i m e n t w i t h t h e a t r i c a l methods i n an a t t e m p t t o c o n t r o l h i s a u d i e n c e ' s r e a c t i o n s . The s u b s e q u e n t s u c c e s s o f h i s work may have a l l o w e d a m o d i f i c a t i o n o f t h e s e t e c h n i q u e s i n The Erpingham Camp, and i n c r e a s i n g c o n f i d e n c e i n h i s d r a m a t i c  abilities  and unique s t y l e i s e v i d e n c e d i n t h e l a c k o f any f u r t h e r s u p e r i m p o s i t i o n of t h e a t r i c a l c o n v e n t i o n . In a d d i t i o n t o t h e o b v i o u s parody o f t h e B a c c h a e , C h r i s t i a n Thomsen s u g g e s t s t h a t The Erpingham Camp p a r o d i e s v a r i o u s o t h e r t y p e s o f drama, n o t a b l y m e d i a e v a l m y s t e r y p l a y s and E l i z a b e t h a n t r a g e d y . Erpingham a b e r z u r n t wie G o t t v a t e r i n den m i t t e l a l t e r l i c h e n M o r a l i t i e s und M y s t e r y P l a y s . . . . Der V e r g l e i c h i s t n i c h t g e s u c h t . O r t o n i m i t i e r t bewust m i t t e l a l t e r l i c h e s d r a m a t i s c h e s Erbe und abermals d i e e l i s a b e t h a n i s c h e T r a g o d i e .  70  Durch P r o p h e z e i u n g s e i n e r H y b r i s zu B e g i n n des S t u c k e s v o r b e r e i t e t , e r l e b t d e r Z u s c h a u e r nun Erpinghams S t u r z vom Z e n i t s e i n e r Macht . . . 28 Mr. Thomsen's c o n n e c t i o n between t h i s p l a y and E l i z a b e t h a n t r a g e d y i s q u i t e i n t e r e s t i n g , e s p e c i a l l y when we c o n s i d e r t h a t t h e manner o f Erpingham's  d e a t h i s v e r y r e m i n i s c e n t o f Barabbas' f a l l t h r o u g h t h e  t r a p d o o r i n The Jew o f M a l t a .  However, t h e c o m p a r i s o n w i t h m e d i a e v a l  drama p r o v e s even more u s e f u l .  Erpingham does behave l i k e God:  one  of t h e f o c a l p o i n t s o f s a t i r i c a t t a c k i n t h i s p l a y i s c o n t e m p o r a r y r e l i g i o n ; t h u s Erpingham's his  omnipotence and d e s p o t i s m , combined  with  d e l u s i o n s o f g r a n d e u r , e n a b l e us t o see him as a parody o f God, as  r u l e r of the "Earthly Paradise." A n o t h e r t r a d i t i o n which has c l e a r l y i n f l u e n c e d O r t o n ' s w r i t i n g o f The Erpingham Camp i s v a u d e v i l l e .  The songs and d a n c e s , t h e emphasis  on " e n t e r t a i n m e n t " t h r o u g h o u t t h e p l a y , and much o f t h e d i a l o g u e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t h e e n t e r t a i n m e n t s s e q u e n c e , has a d e c i d e d m u s i c - h a l l f l a v o u r . Riley:  (To_ Kenny). I want you t o put t h i s on. I t ' s our r e s i d e n t 'Tarzan' gear. Kenny t a k e s t h e s k i n and i s a b o u t t o p u t v t on. R i 1 e y s t o p s him. Y o u ' l l have t o drop y o u r s l a c k s , my l a d . Kenny l o o k s d u b i o u s . Mason g i v e s a g i g g l e and a_ p r o f e s s i o n a l l y coy s m i l e . Mason: He d o e s n ' t want t o t a k e them o f f i n f r o n t o f a l a d y . R i l e y : Where's t h e l a d y ? You're n o t t r y i n g t o t e l l us t h a t y o u ' r e a l a d y , M i s s Mason? Mason: I am. R i l e y : W e ' l l have t o check y o u r c r e d e n t i a l s l a t e r . (To Kenny) Go w i t h M i s s Mason. She p l a y s t o t h e house. Y o u ' l l have a whale o f a t i m e , b u t remember t o keep y o u r cheques and l e g s c r o s s e d , (p. 61) The i n t e r c h a n g e between R i l e y and Mason i s d e c i d e d l y v a u d e v i 1 1 i a n . O r t o n uses t h e t r a d i t i o n a l m a t e r i a l o f m u s i c - h a l l j o k e s ("That  wasn't  a l a d y , t h a t was my w i f e " ) , and even t h e s l i g h t l y r i s q u e ' d o u b l e - e n t e n d r e s  71  so b e l o v e d o f stand-up comedians.  N a t u r a l l y t h e c h o i c e o f music c o n t r i b u t e s  t o t h i s e f f e c t , as does Mason's c o n c e r t i n a . Moreover,  t h e amazing d i v e r s i t y and range o f t h e music o u t s i d e t h e  e n t e r t a i n m e n t s sequence  ( f r o m "La M a r s e i l l a i s e " t o "Knees Up M o t h e r  Brown" and Gounod's "Ave M a r i a " ) , when c o n s i d e r e d i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h t h e many r e f e r e n c e s t o a r t and t h e e x t r e m e l y d e t a i l e d v i s u a l e f f e c t s s p e c i f i e d by O r t o n -The body o f Erpingham i s l e f t a l o n e i n t h e m o o n l i g h t w i t h t h e r e d b a l l o o n s and d y i n g f l a m e s i n a^ b l a z e from t h e d i s t a n t s t a i n e d g l a s s . A g r e a t c h o i r i s h e a r d s i n g i n g 'The H o l y C i t y ' ( p . 88) -- l e a d s Thomsen t o view t h i s p l a y as a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f P o p - T h e a t r e , a genre i n which d i v i s i o n s between t h e a r t s a r e broken down, r e s u l t i n g i n a type o f "happening" o r m u l t i - m e d i a a r t e x p e r i e n c e . ^ A l t h o u g h t h e s e i n f l u e n c e s and c a t e g o r i s a t i o n s a r e i n t e r e s t i n g , t h e p r i m a r y form o f t h e p l a y i s f a r c e . O r t o n d e v e l o p s and e x t e n d s t h e f a r c i c a l t r a d i t i o n he used i n L o o t t o p r o v i d e an even s t r o n g e r v i s i o n o f a n a r c h y and a b l e a k e r view o f man's b e s t i a l i t y .  The d e s c r i p t i o n o f  t h e e n t e r t a i n m e n t s sequence e m p h a t i c a l l y n e g a t e s man's s u p e r i o r i t y o v e r other animals. Lou and E i l e e n a r e s c r e a m i n g , Kenny i_s g r u n t i n g a n d g r i n n i n g l i k e an ape and f l e x i n g h i s muscles a t an i n d i f f e r e n t Mason. Ted j_s d a n c i n g t h e c a n - c a n , w h i l s t Mason p l a y s t h e squeeze-box, (p. 64) Not o n l y does t h i s image deny t h a t man, as seen by O r t o n , has any i n t r i n s i c d i g n i t y , Kenny's T a r z a n i m i t a t i o n a l s o d e m o n s t r a t e s  man's a f f i n i t y w i t h  p r i m a t e s , a p o i n t r e i n f o r c e d by t h e o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s ' b e h a v i n g performing animals.  Moreover,  t h e a n i m a l i t y o f a l l mankind  by t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e r i o t e r s .  like  i s emphasised  72  They were r u n n i n g a b o u t h a l f - n a k e d spewing up t h e i r p o r k 'n beans. I c o u n t e d e i g h t p a i r s o f women's b r i e f s on t h e s t a i r s . T h e r e ' l l be some u n e x p e c t e d v i s i t s t o t h e p r e - n a t a l c l i n i c a f t e r t o n i g h t , (p. 72) T h u s , as i n L o o t , t h e f a r c e i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f O r t o n ' s v i s i o n o f s o c i e t y , i t e m p h a s i s e s t h e a n a r c h i c and b e s t i a l q u a l i t i e s o f modern Orton's f o c a l p o i n t s o f s a t i r i c a t t a c k i n t h i s p l a y are not  man.  new.  He v i g o r o u s l y , renews h i s a t t a c k on t h e C h u r c h ; h e r e , u n l i k e L o o t ,  the  f o c u s i s on C h r i s t i a n i t y i n g e n e r a l , n o t C a t h o l i c i s m o r any one p a r t i c u l a r religion.  The o t h e r main s a t i r i c t h r u s t i s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t a u t h o r i t y :  o b v i o u s l y t h e r e i s a c o n n e c t i o n between t h i s and t h e C h u r c h , but t h e f o c u s o f t h i s a t t a c k i s s e c u l a r , i n the p e r s o n o f Erpingham.  Orton's  a t t i t u d e s towards a t o t a l i t a r i a n s o c i e t y have been d i s c u s s e d i n The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t ; however, The Erpingham Camp i s , i n many r e s p e c t s , more s u b t l e i n i t s c r i t i c i s m .  F i r s t l y , the concept of a on  h o l i d a y camp as "a s o r t o f v o l u n t a r y c o n c e n t r a t i o n c a m p "  JU  i s more  o r i g i n a l than t h e image o f t h e f i r m as m i c r o c o s m used i n The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t , y e t i s j u s t as e f f e c t i v e . [ i t ] has enough r e c o g n i z a b l e t r u t h i n i t , enough r e l a t i o n t o t h e known t r a i t s o f s u f f i c i e n t l y b e l i e v a b l e human b e i n g s t o p r o d u c e r e s o n a n c e s i n o u r minds beyond t h e c o n f i n e s o f what we see b e f o r e us . . .31 M o r e o v e r , s i n c e Erpingham, t h e c e n t r a l a u t h o r i t y f i g u r e , seems r i d i c u l o u s from t h e o u t s e t , and because h i s p r e t e n s i o n s t o g r a n d e u r a r e c o n s i s t e n t l y u n d e r c u t , both by e x c e l l e n t c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n and t h e use o f " a l i e n a t i o n " d e v i c e s , O r t o n s u c c e s s f u l l y d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e amusing i d i o c y o f h i s d e l u s i o n s and h i s s u b s e q u e n t d o w n f a l l . Erpingham: Rows o f E n t e r t a i n m e n t C e n t r e s down l o v e l y , u n s p o i l e d b i t s o f t h e c o a s t , a c r o s s d e s e r t e d m o o r l a n d and b a r r e n mountainside. The E a r t h l y P a r a d i s e . Ah . . .  73 He s t a r e s r a p t l y i n t o t h e d i s t a n c e . I can h e a r i t . I can t o u c h i t . hauntingly beautiful, Riley. M u s i c : 'The H o l y C i t y ' (p. 49)  And t h e s i g h t o f i t i s  The f o l l y and f u t i l i t y o f dreams o f d i c t a t o r i a l omnipotence a r e c l e a r l y d e m o n s t r a t e d h e r e , and thus t h e a u t h o r i t y f i g u r e i s d i m i n i s h e d .  This  i s a more e f f e c t i v e t e c h n i q u e t h a n t h a t used f o r Mrs. V e a l f o y i n The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t . ment:  She was, i n a way, i m p e r v i o u s t o a s a t i r i c t r e a t -  too o m n i p o t e n t , t o o s u c c e s s f u l t o be d e s t r o y e d .  Thus we were  presented with a b r i l l i a n t p o r t r a i t o f a f i g u r e o f a u t h o r i t y , but the s a t i r e c o u l d o n l y n i b b l e away a t d e t a i l s -- her p e t t y b u r e a u c r a c y , h e r o b s e s s i o n w i t h t r i v i a -- and n o t d e m o l i s h t h e c o n c e p t o f a u t h o r i t y . The c h u r c h i s a t t a c k e d t h r o u g h t h e c h a r a c t e r o f t h e P a d r e .  In f a c t ,  t h a t p h r a s e i s somewhat m i s l e a d i n g , s i n c e t h e Padre does n o t have a c l e a r l y d e v e l o p e d c h a r a c t e r ; he i s a t w o - d i m e n s i o n a l f i g u r e , a symbol o f the i n e f f e c t i v e n e s s , h y p o c r i s y and f u t i l i t y o f t h e modern c h u r c h . R e l i g i o u s h y p o c r i s y i s one o f O r t o n ' s f a v o u r i t e themes, and t h e Padre behaves i n a manner t o t a l l y u n s u i t a b l e f o r a C h r i s t i a n p r i e s t ; he has been a c c u s e d o f m o l e s t i n g a teenage g i r l  --  You must g i v e up y o u r e v a n g e l i c a l f o r a y s i n t o t e e n a g e c h a l e t s . T h e y ' r e l i a b l e t o m i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ( p . 60) -- h i s d u t i e s seem m a i n l y t o c o n s i s t o f a d d i n g 'tone' t o t h e p r o c e e d i n g s -I'd l i k e y o u r p r e s e n c e a t t h e b a t h i n g b e a u t y c o n t e s t tomorrow, P a d r e . A c l e r i c a l f a c e always i n s p i r e s c o n f i d e n c e a t a g a t h e r i n g o f semi-nude women. And, i n t h e e v e n i n g , perhaps you'd m i n g l e w i t h t h e o l d e r men and t e l l a few o f y o u r " o f f c o l o u r " s t o r i e s ? ( p . 67) - - a n d , f o r t h e f i n a l t o u c h o f h y p o c r i s y , he, a p r i e s t , has somehow f o r g o t t e n o r m i s l a i d h i s symbol o f r e l i g i o n and C h r i s t i a n i t y : crucifix.  his  74  Erpingham: Padre:  Have you g o t a c r u c i f i x , Padre?  No, s i r . I've come o u t w i t h o u t i t .  ( p . 81)  Perhaps t h e most i n t e r e s t i n g a s p e c t o f t h e P a d r e ' s b e h a v i o u r , t h o u g h , i s h i s c o n s t a n t a t t e m p t (and f a i l u r e ) t o make C h r i s t i a n i t y r e l e v a n t , t o r e l a t e c o n t e m p o r a r y i s s u e s t o t h e i r B i b l i c a l c o u n t e r p a r t s . He e x c e l s i n p r o d u c i n g p a t h e t i c and r i d i c u l o u s s i m i l e s ; h i s m o d e r n i s a t i o n o f t h e p a r a b l e o f t h e Gadarene swine i s h i l a r i o u s l y  incompetent.^  We a r e meant t o u n d e r s t a n d , s i r , t h a t w i t h madness, as w i t h v o m i t , i t ' s t h e p a s s e r - b y who r e c e i v e s t h e i n c o n v e n i e n c e . ( p . 58) Not o n l y does t h i s show a fundamental m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e B i b l i c a l s t o r y , i t a l s o demonstrates Orton's t h e s i s :  t h e Church (and thus by  i m p l i c a t i o n , t h e B i b l e ) have no r e l e v a n c e i n modern s o c i e t y .  This  p o i n t i s c o n t i n u a l l y t h r u s t a t u s , sometimes by t h e P a d r e ' s l u d i c r o u s c o m p a r i s o n s , a t o t h e r t i m e s by h i s i n e f f e c t u a l b e h a v i o u r . Riley:  Oh, s i r , ( P l e a d i n g l y ) c a l l them back. L e t ' s t h r a s h i t o u t o v e r a cup o f i n s t a n t . P a d r e : Had Pharoah done as C h i e f Redcoat R i l e y s u g g e s t s , ' s i r , t h e t e n p l a g u e s would n o t have been i n f l i c t e d on t h e f a i r l a n d o f Egypt, (p. 76) The image o f Pharoah b a r g a i n i n g w i t h Moses o v e r "a cup o f i n s t a n t " i s i r r e s i s t i b l y funny. negotiator:  In a d d i t i o n , t h e Padre i s an a b j e c t f a i l u r e as a  he i s i n c a p a b l e o f t u r n i n g back t h e hordes o f r i o t e r s  ( t h e c o m p a r i s o n w i t h Pope Leo i s a f u r t h e r use o f e l e v a t i o n and h y p e r b o l e to d i m i n i s h a c h a r a c t e r ) , and h i s p r a y e r s i n t h e m i d s t o f s l a u g h t e r are t o t a l l y p a t h e t i c . R i l e y and W. E. H a r r i s o n a r e f i g h t i n g o f f t h e o t h e r campers. Kenny i s v i c i o u s l y b e a t i n g up E i l e e n i_s_ s c r e a m i n g and h i t t i n g J e s s i e Mason. k n e e l s amid t h e c a r n a g e . H i s hands f o i d e d i n P a d r e : Oh, M e r c i f u l F a t h e r , i n Thee we t r u s t threaten. He i s h i t by an egg, (p. 85)  attacks of the Erpingham. The Padre prayer. when d a n g e r s  75  This ignominious  a c t i o n t y p i f i e s O r t o n ' s a t t i t u d e towards t h e C h u r c h ;  i n d e e d i t a p p e a r s t o be O r t o n ' s v i e w p o i n t  t h a t t h e Padre v o i c e s .  I t ' s L i f e t h a t d e f e a t s the C h r i s t i a n C h u r c h . She's always been w e l l - e q u i p p e d to deal w i t h Death, (p. 86) I t has been s a i d t h a t t h e P a d r e ' s c h a r a c t e r i s t w o - d i m e n s i o n a l ;  this  comment can be e q u a l l y w e l l a p p l i e d t o any o f t h e o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s i n The Erpingham Camp. apply here:  The s t a t e m e n t s made a b o u t c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n L o o t  f a r c e demands a d i f f e r e n t type o f c h a r a c t e r d e l i n e a t i o n  f r o m o t h e r comedy, and t h e c h a r a c t e r s i n t h i s p l a y a r e c l e a r l y d e v e l o p e d , w e l l - c h a r a c t e r i s e d ( o r p e r h a p s c a r i c a t u r e d ) and b r i l l i a n t l y s u c c e s s f u l . U n l i k e The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t , w h e r e t h e r e i s r e a l l y o n l y  one  i n t e r e s t i n g c h a r a c t e r , a l l t h e c a s t o f The Erpingham Camp a r e f a s c i n a t i n g Erpingham, i s o f c o u r s e , t h e c e n t r a l f i g u r e ; h i s g o d - l i k e f a n t a s i e s have been d i s c u s s e d , and t h i s d e l u s i o n e x t e n d s t o h i s management o f the camp, h i s views on r e l i g i o n , m o r a l i t y  --  R i l e y : Two d u c k s . Made o f p l a s t i c . They were s t u c k t o g e t h e r . Erpingham: Beak t o beak? Was t h e j o i n e r y smutty? R i l e y : Well s i r — t h e E n g i n e e r i n c h a r g e had t o p e r f o r m surgery . . . Erpingham: I want t h o s e ducks d e s t r o y e d . We've no t i m e f o r h e d o n i s t s h e r e . My camp i s a pure camp (p. 48) —  and punishment.  In f a c t Erpingham's i n t r a n s i g e n c e b e f o r e t h e d e p u t a t i  o f campers i s t r u l y t h a t o f a d e s p o t . duty to p u n i s h t h e m i s c r e a n t s ,  He i s c o n v i n c e d  that i t i s his  i n d e e d , t h a t i t would be wrong f o r him  n o t to do so. You have insulted y e t , the you come taught a  damaged my p r o p e r t y , p o u r e d s c o r n on my s t a f f and me. You've c a s t my h o s p i t a l i t y i n my f a c e . And b i t t e r t a s t e o f i n g r a t i t u d e not d r y upon my l i p s , t o me w i t h y o u r a r r o g a n t demands. No, you must be l e s s o n , (p. 75)  The l a n g u a g e o f t h i s speech i s i m p r e s s i v e .  Erpingham sounds and behaves  76  l i k e an a b s o l u t e monarch, a man whose power i s so complete  t h a t he w i l l  a l l o w no r e b e l l i o n .  undercut.  However, t h i s d i g n i t y i s i m m e d i a t e l y  I t i s my i n t e n t i o n t o d e f y t h e f o r c e s o f A n a r c h y w i t h a l l that i s best in twentieth century c i v i l i s a t i o n . I s h a l l p u t a r e c o r d o f Russ Conway on t h e gram, and browse t h r o u g h a James Bond. (p. 76) Bond and Russ Conway a r e symbols o f m i d d l e - c l a s s m e d i o c r i t y ; a f r i g h t e n i n g image f o r " a l l t h a t i s b e s t i n t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y c i v i l i s a t i o n . " a g a i n , O r t o n uses h y p e r b o l e t o d e m o l i s h t h e f o r c e o f a  Once  statement.  The o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s a r e n o t dealt'; w i t h i n q u i t e t h e same way. With t h e e x c e p t i o n o f R i l e y , t h e y a r e a l l e x c e l l e n t v i g n e t t e s :  Mason  i s a w o n d e r f u l l y h y p o c r i t i c a l nymphomaniac, Kenny a r a b b l e - r o u s e r , somewhat r e m i n i s c e n t o f O s b o r n e ' s Jimmy P o r t e r , and E i l e e n a m a r v e l l o u s c r e a t i o n , a h a l f - w i t t e d , a d d l e - p a t e d g i r l who t h i n k s and t a l k s s o l e l y in c l i c h e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y those of sentimental j o u r n a l i s m . We d e f i e d the ban on our l o v e ! I'm p r e g n a n t . r i g h t t o p r o t e c t i o n , haven't I? (p. 70) R i l e y i s a more complex c h a r a c t e r .  I've a  I t i s d i f f i c u l t to decide whether  he i s a nincompoop o r v e r y , v e r y c l e v e r .  I t i s s u g g e s t e d t h a t he i s  t h e l a t t e r ; he may have k i l l e d t h e E n t e r t a i n m e n t s O f f i c e r t o o b t a i n his job.  C e r t a i n l y , w h e t h e r w i t t i n g l y o r n o t , he i s t h e cause o f  Erpingham's d o w n f a l l and d e a t h , and h i s f i n a l comments t o t h e dead body s u g g e s t an element o f g l o a t i n g . I ' l l a r r a n g e a C l a s s A ( H i g h e r Employee) w r e a t h , s i r . I hope t h a t w i l l be a l l r i g h t ? Turns t o go. Looks back. Goodbye, s i r . Be s e e i n g you. (pp. 87-88) H i s f u n e r a l o r a t i o n f o r Erpingham shows him t o be e i t h e r u t t e r l y hypoc r i t i c a l and u n s c r u p u l o u s , o r c o m p l e t e l y i n c a p a b l e o f p e r c e i v i n g t h e truth.  77  He was a g r e a t man. One o f t h e g r e a t e s t o f o u r t i m e . H i s d e a t h , when i t came, found him q u i t e p r e p a r e d . He went q u i e t l y and w i t h g r e a t d i g n i t y ,  ( p . 87)  The b l a t a n t u n t r u t h f u l n e s s o f t h e f i n a l s t a t e m e n t ( s i n c e we have j u s t seen Erpingham f a l l through death), suggests  t h e s t a g e t o an e x t r e m e l y  n o i s y and u n d i g n i f i e d  t h a t R i l e y may be c l e v e r enough t o p e r v e r t a l l o c c a s i o n s  to h i s own u s e ; however, t h e p l a y does n o t a l l o w f o r s u f f i c i e n t e x p l a n a t i o n o r d e v e l o p m e n t o f h i s c h a r a c t e r , and thus i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s r e m a i n . O r t o n ' s use o f l a n g u a g e i s , as a l w a y s , m a s t e r l y i n t h i s p l a y . most o f t e n used t e c h n i q u e s  His  a r e e l e v a t i o n ( t o make E r p i n g h a m , i n p a r t i c u l a r ,  l o o k f o o l i s h ) , and s i m p l i f i c a t i o n , a type o f r e d u c t i o ad absurdum, used t o g r e a t e f f e c t w i t h t h e P a d r e .  Erpingham's f o o l i s h d e l u s i o n s o f  g r a n d e u r a r e r e p r e s e n t e d as much i n h i s l a n g u a g e as they a r e by t h e m u s i c , l i g h t i n g and o t h e r e f f e c t s . Riley:  The R e s i d e n t M e d i c a l O f f i c e r went an hour ago. The C h i e f E n g i n e e r and t h e S e c u r i t y O f f i c e r have gone w i t h i n t h e l a s t few m i n u t e s . Erpingham: We've l o s t M e d e c i n e , S c i e n c e and D e f e n c e . Any more? R i l e y : The L i b e r a l A r t s , s i r . R e p r e s e n t e d by t h e woman a t the postcard stand. ( p . 81) The c o n c e p t o f e l e v a t i n g t h e l a d y a t t h e p o s t c a r d s t a n d t o t h e r e p r e s e n t a tive of Liberal Arts epitomises  Erpingham's g r a n d i l o q u e n t  fantasies.  The l a n g u a g e , as i t does so o f t e n i n O r t o n ' s p l a y s , d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e h y p o c r i s y o f modern man.  H e r e , as i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e and L o o t ,  i t shows t h e a f f e c t e d g e n t i l i t y and f a l s e m o r a l i t y o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s . Erpingham, as we have s e e n , has a s k e d t h e Padre t o a t t e n d t h e b e a u t y c o n t e s t and t e l l d i r t y j o k e s t o t h e s p e c t a t o r s .  However, he i s v e r y  much c o n c e r n e d t h a t h i s camp s h o u l d a p p e a r moral and above thus h i s i n s i s t e n c e on a p p e a r a n c e s i s seen t o be l u d i c r o u s .  reproach,  78  Erpingham: ( s t a r i n g a t Ted, o u t r a g e d . ) What has become o f y o u r t r o u s e r s ? (To t h e Padre) T h i s i s no p l a c e f o r a priest. (Back t o Ted) I d o n ' t a l l o w i n d e c e n t e x p o s u r e i n my camp. ~Tp. 70) O r t o n ' s m a s t e r l y r e v e l a t i o n o f t h i s h y p o c r i s y i s seen a g a i n t o g r e a t e f f e c t in Riley's funeral oration. E i l e e n ' s " s e n t i m e n t a l j o u r n a l e s e " has a l r e a d y been i d e n t i f i e d , and somewhat r e s e m b l e s Kath's cheap r o m a n t i c l o n g i n g s i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e ; however The Erpingham Camp i s r e m a r k a b l e f o r i t s u n i q u e use o f p o l i t i c a l l a n g u a g e , i n which O r t o n e x a c t l y c a p t u r e s t h e r h e t o r i c and i n t e n s i t y o f a h i g h l y e f f e c t i v e demagogue. They have d e n i e d o u r c h i l d r e n b r e a d , i n s u l t e d o u r womenfolk and i g n o r e d o u r e v e r y p l e a . T h e r e i s n o t h i n g l e f t but d i r e c t a c t i o n . I say we s h o u l d break open t h e S t o r e s . Take t h e means o f s u p p l y i n t o o u r own hands, ( p . 77) Indeed t h e r e i s more v a r i e t y o f l a n g u a g e i n The Erpingham Camp than i n any o t h e r O r t o n p l a y .  In a d d i t i o n t o t h e many d i f f e r e n t s t y l e s , t h e r e 33  a r e "many n i c e r u t h l e s s j o k e s i n O r t o n ' s b e s t f a n t a s t i c v e i n , "  all  d e s i g n e d t o show t h e h o l i d a y camp as a s h e l t e r f o r t h e w o r s t a s p e c t s o f humanity. Erpingham: Our d i s a b i l i t y bonus was won by Mr. L a u r i e R u s s e l o f Market Harborough. Both L a u r i e ' s l e g s were c e r t i f i e d ' a b s o l u t e l y u s e l e s s by o u r R e s i d e n t M e d i c a l O f f i c e r . Y e t he p e r f o r m e d t h e T w i s t and t h e Bossa Nova t o t h e tune s p e c i f i e d on t h e e n t r a n c e form. Ted: He f e l l o v e r , though. T w i c e . Lou: They h e l p them a l o t , d o n ' t t h e y ? T h a t b l i n d woman would've n e v e r f o u n d t h e d i v i n g board' i f t h e a u d i e n c e hadn't s h o u t e d o u t . (p. 51) 1  The t r a d i t i o n a l c o m p e t i t i o n s and e v e n t s i n h o l i d a y camps a r e t w i s t e d , p e r v e r t e d and p a r o d i e d by O r t o n t o p r o v i d e an u g l y view o f mankind.  Man  i s seen as e n j o y i n g t h e d i s a b i l i t i e s o f o t h e r s , d e r i v i n g p l e a s u r e f r o m d u b i o u s s e n s a t i o n s , and g e n e r a l l y l a c k i n g compassion f o r t h o s e who  suffer.  79  In The Erpingham Camp, O r t o n shows us s o c i e t y en masse, and how e a s i l y man can be swayed t o v i o l e n c e and d e s t r u c t i o n .  demonstrates  The p l a y  is not a p o l i t i c a l a l l e g o r y i n the sense t h a t i t c e l e b r a t e s the triumph o f a n a r c h y o v e r d e s p o t i s m , but i t does have a s o c i a l message. viewed as an a n i m a l :  Man i s  i r r a t i o n a l , ready to f o l l o w the herd, unsympathetic,  and above a l l , u n c o n t r o l l a b l y v i o l e n t .  The f o r c e o f t h i s image,  combined  w i t h the s a t i r e on t h e Church and a u t h o r i t y , makes The Erpingham Camp O r t o n ' s most p o w e r f u l o n e - a c t p l a y .  F u n e r a l Games, O r t o n ' s l a s t o n e - a c t p l a y , was w r i t t e n i n t h e f i n a l months o f h i s l i f e , and p r o d u c e d on t e l e v i s i o n i n A u g u s t 1968, o v e r a year a f t e r h i s death. the  The p l a y was b r o a d c a s t o n l y a few days a f t e r  R u s s i a n i n v a s i o n o f C z e c h o s l o v a k i a , t h e r e f o r e most t e l e v i s i o n c r i t i c s  commented n o t o n l y on O r t o n ' s " s t y l i s t i c a l l y e l e g a n t and g r a v e l y w i t t y " ^ ^ h a n d l i n g o f t h e theme, but a l s o n o t e d t h a t t h e " v i s i o n o f l i f e as a h o r r i b l e and v i o l e n t f a r c e seemed r e l e v a n t . . . had been w a t c h i n g . " ^ apt  t o a g r e a t d e a l we  O r t o n ' s view o f mankind must have seemed p a r t i c u l a r l y  a t such a t i m e ; i n d e e d t h e c o i n c i d e n t a l r e l e v a n c e o f t h e p l a y may  a c c o u n t f o r t h e d i s c r e p a n c y i n o p i n i o n between t h e t e l e v i s i o n c r i t i c s and t h e l a t e r , more academic r e v i e w s .  Nearly every c r i t i c i n this  l a t t e r group c o n s i d e r s F u n e r a l Games a d i s a p p o i n t m e n t :  at best i t i s  t h o u g h t t o be a b l a c k comedy w h i c h " f a i l s t o r a i s e i t s theme o f r e l i g i o u s h y p o c r i s y above t h e l e v e l o f cheeky f u n , "  at worst a t a s t e l e s s c o l l e c t i o n  of jokes about death, with a n t i - r e l i g i o u s t e n d e n c i e s .  C e r t a i n l y the  p l a y does l i t t l e t o enhance O r t o n ' s r e p u t a t i o n : many o f t h e b r i l l i a n t l y funny l i n e s c o n s o l i d a t e h i s p o s i t i o n as a m a s t e r o f l a n g u a g e , b u t t h e  80  e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y (and u n n e c e s s a r i l y ) complex p l o t , i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h t h e u n s u b t l e ( a n d , on o c c a s i o n , u t t e r l y l u d i c r o u s ) s a t i r i c comment, prevents the central t h r u s t o f the play, the attack against r e l i g i o n and r e l i g i o u s h y p o c r i t e s , from b e i n g t a k e n v e r y s e r i o u s l y . F u n e r a l Games i s d e f i n i t e l y one o f t h e f u n n i e s t o f O r t o n ' s  plays,  and i t may be t h i s humour t h a t d i l u t e s t h e f o r c e o f t h e s a t i r e .  In  Orton's o t h e r works t h e l a u g h t e r i n c r e a s e s t h e s a t i r i c t h r u s t ; i n L o o t , f o r example, t h e a u d i e n c e  laughs a t T r u s c o t t k i c k i n g H a l , then r e a l i s e s  t h e t r u t h o f O r t o n ' s comment on p o l i c e b r u t a l i t y . Here t h e humour e x i s t s because o f t h e s h e e r r i d i c u l o u s n e s s o f t h e s i t u a t i o n ; t h e l a u g h t e r may be l o u d e r , b u t t h e u t t e r l u d i c r o u s n e s s d i m i n i s h e s t h e d e e p e r comment. P r i n g l e : What shape i s y o u r h o t w a t e r b o t t l e ? Caul f i e l d : I h a v e n ' t g o t one. P r i n g l e : Too proud. Mine t a k e s t h e form o f a c r o s s . p i e t y f o r you.38  There's  T h i s i s a v e r y funny i n t e r c h a n g e , and does i n d e e d d i s c u s s one o f O r t o n ' s f a v o u r i t e themes: hypocrites).  t h e importance  o f appearances ( e s p e c i a l l y t o r e l i g i o u s  Nevertheless, the concept o f a hot-water b o t t l e i n the  shape o f a c r o s s i s so u n l i k e l y t h a t much o f t h e t h r u s t i s l o s t .  Indeed,  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r ' s comment t h a t " t h e a c t i o n t a k e s p l a c e i n a n e v e r never l a n d ,  1  a l t h o u g h n o t s t r i c t l y a c c u r a t e , has much t r u t h i n i t .  It i s d i f f i c u l t to recognise the society i n this play:  Orton i s remarkable  f o r h i s o f t e n d i s t o r t e d , b u t always r e a d i l y i d e n t i f i a b l e views o f mank i n d ; h e r e , however, h i s i m a g i n a t i o n a p p e a r s t o have taken  flight.  C e r t a i n l y t h e r e a r e r e c o g n i s a b l e e l e m e n t s i n F u n e r a l Games, b u t , on t h e w h o l e , t h e v i s i o n o f a l u s t f u l , h y p o c r i t i c a l , g r e e d y , and somewhat maniacal  c l e r g y m a n employing  a homosexual p h o t o g r a p h e r ' s  model t o i n v e s t i g a t e ,  and s u b s e q u e n t l y murder, h i s w i f e ( n o t t o m e n t i o n a l l t h e o t h e r i n t r i c a c i e s  81  o f t h e p l o t , i n c l u d i n g an o l d , mad,  b l i n d d o n k e y - k e e p e r ) can o n l y w i t h  d i f f i c u l t y be r e l a t e d t o modern s o c i e t y .  Mr. T a y l o r makes t h i s p o i n t  quite forcefully: In t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s i t i s hard t o r e l a t e c h a r a c t e r s o r e v e n t s t o any e x t e r n a l r e a l i t y , and t h e r e f o r e t o any e x i s t i n g code o r c o n v e n t i o n o f m o r a l i t y , p r o p r i e t y and what-have-you. But i f t h i s i s a f a n t a s y w o r l d where a n y t h i n g g o e s , then how can you hope to b r i n g o f f e f f e c t s which depend on a s e n s e o f o u t r a g e a t t h e b r e a k i n g o f t a b o o s ? Shock c a n n o t e x i s t w i t h o u t a t l e a s t some p a r t i a l , p r o v i s i o n a l s e n s e o f b e l i e f . 4 0 T h i s i s a p e r c e p t i v e comment, b u t t h e s o c i e t y o f t h e p l a y i s n o t r e a l l y a " f a n t a s y w o r l d " ; i t i s however, too e x a g g e r a t e d  and d i s t o r t e d an image  o f r e a l i t y f o r a s t r o n g f e e l i n g o f shock t o e x i s t . Since the c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r s i n t h i s play are clergymen,  Orton i s  a b l e t o s a t i r i s e the f u n c t i o n and b e h a v i o u r o f t h e Church i n many d i f f e r e n t ways.  On o c c a s i o n t h e a t t a c k seems t o be l i m i t e d t o P r i n g l e ' s e s o t e r i c  s e c t , whose a c t i v i t i e s a r e d e s c r i b e d i n terms a p p r o p r i a t e f o r a gang of hooligans. Have you heard o f my group? The B r o t h e r h o o d . on s t r e e t c o r n e r s , (p. 324) However, t h e B r o t h e r h o o d  We hang a b o u t  ( o r B r e t h r e n , as i t i s sometimes c a l l e d ) i s  n o t s a t i r i s e d on i t s own a c c o u n t .  O r t o n uses t h i s s e c t t o p r e s e n t a  v i c i o u s l y funny c a r i c a t u r e o f C h r i s t i a n i t y i n g e n e r a l .  From P r i n g l e ' s  i r r e v e r e n t remarks a b o u t the h o l y w a t e r -I t ' s r e p o r t e d t o have m i r a c u l o u s a l a x a t i v e m y s e l f (p. 324) -- to h i s d e s c r i p t i o n o f C h r i s t m a s  powers.  I use i t as  (where t h e t o n g u e - i n - c h e e k  i s e v i d e n t , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t h e pun on "the u n u s u a l n e s s  of the  attitude conception"),  we can see t h a t O r t o n i s d e l i g h t e d l y m o c k i n g a l l t h e s a c r e d r i t u a l s o f t h e e s t a b l i s h e d Church.  82  C h r i s t m a s . We c a l l t h a t t h e f e s t i v a l o f t h e Renewal o f t h e S p i r i t . We have a c o t w i t h a baby i n i t o u t s i d e t h e c h u r c h . I d a r e say y o u ' r e s u r p r i s e d by t h e u n u s u a l n e s s o f t h e c o n c e p t i o n , (p. 324) The B r o t h e r h o o d , t h e r e f o r e , i s t o be viewed as a microcosm;  a l l the  sex, v i o l e n c e and h y p o c r i s y so r i f e i n t h a t o r g a n i s a t i o n c o r r e s p o n d to Orton's v i s i o n o f the behaviour of C h r i s t i a n  man.  Of c o u r s e O r t o n c a n n o t r e s i s t p o k i n g f u n a t t h e Church whenever possible.  Thus, t h e p l a y has, as a type o f r u n n i n g j o k e , a s e r i e s o f  exchanges which c o m p l e t e l y p e r v e r t a l l t h e i d e a l s o f C h r i s t i a n i t y . C a u l f i e l d : I've an a p p o i n t m e n t a t t h e nude c a l e n d a r shop. I've been commissioned t o do F e b r u a r y . McCorquodale: The Church G a z e t t e put o u t a n i c e c a l e n d a r . They m i g h t be a b l e t o use y o u . ( p . 334) The t h o u g h t o f a nude male model i n t h e Church G a z e t t e i s h i l a r i o u s , but harmless.  Not so funny o r h a r m l e s s , however, i s C a u l f i e l d ' s i n j u n c t i o n  to P r i n g l e : U n l e s s you k i l l y o u r w i f e s h e ' l l a c c u s e you o f n o t b e i n g her murderer. You're a c l e r g y m a n . I t ' s t i m e you p r a c t i s e d what you p r e a c h . ( p . 353) The consequences  o f t h e c l e r g y i n F u n e r a l Games p r a c t i s i n g what t h e y  preach are indeed h o r r i f y i n g .  In O r t o n ' s u n i v e r s e t h e p r e v a i l i n g  emotions  t h a t govern a l l men's l i v e s a r e r e v e n g e , l u s t , g r e e d , and above a l l , a desire for self-gratification.  Thus O r t o n i s a n x i o u s t o  demonstrate  t h a t men must n o t View t h e C h u r c h , and p a r t i c u l a r l y the c l e r g y , as s a c r e d and i n v i o l a t e .  S i n c e p r i e s t s a r e human, t h e y e x p e r i e n c e t h e  same emotions as a l l mankind; i n f a c t i n O r t o n ' s view, t h e y d i f f e r from o r d i n a r y men o n l y i n t h a t t h e y use t h e i r r e l i g i o n and p o s i t i o n as a c o v e r t o i n d u l g e more f r e e l y i n t h e i r animal n a t u r e s . A l t h o u g h the c h a r a c t e r s a r e a t t a c k e d f o r v a r i o u s a s p e c t s o f h y p o c r i s y ,  83  f o r e x a m p l e , P r i n g l e ' s b u r n i n g d e s i r e f o r w e a l t h y women, t h e c e n t r a l s a t i r i c t h r u s t o f t h e p l a y comments on t h e p h y s i c a l v i o l e n c e c o n n e c t e d with r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s .  O r t o n ' s t h e s i s has been d e s c r i b e d as an  a t t e m p t t o prove t h a t " v i o l e n c e and r e l i g i o n a r e f o r e v e r d e s t i n e d t o go hand i n hand";^!  s i t u a t i o n that McCorquodale s 1  a  painting depicts  emblematically. McCorquodale: I t was my i n t e n t i o n t o r e p r e s e n t -- i n a s y m b o l i c f a s h i o n -- the C h r i s t i a n Church. T e s s a : A b i r d o f p r e y c a r r y i n g an o l i v e b r a n c h . You've put i t i n a n u t s h e l l , (p.  355)  Since the play i s concerned with v i o l e n c e , i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to look at t h e way f o r c e i s p r e s e n t e d .  On a t l e a s t two o c c a s i o n s t h e power o f t h e  v i o l e n c e i s such t h a t i t b r e a k s t h r o u g h t h e l a u g h t e r and s h a t t e r s t h e a u d i e n c e i n t o shocked s i l e n c e . to k i l l Tessa.  T h i s o c c u r s f i r s t when P r i n g l e p r e p a r e s  The f u n and j o k e s c o n t i n u e u n t i l T e s s a becomes aware  o f the r e a l danger and screams.  We,  the audience, r e a c t e q u a l l y v i o l e n t l y ;  t h e u g l i n e s s o f r e a l i t y seems a l l t h e more s h o c k i n g i n c o n t r a s t t o t h e farce. P r i n g l e p o i n t s t h e gun a t T e s s a ' s h e a r t . She backs away. Screams, s u d d e n l y a f r a i d . C a u l f i e l d p i c k s up a^ b o t t l e and c r a s h e s i t o v e r P r i n g l e ' s head. P r i n g l e d r o p s t h e gun and f a l l s t o t h e ground. T e s s a : ( p a u s e , t o C a u l f i e l d ) . You want t o be c a r e f u l . You might h u r t somebody, (p. 339) The humour o f T e s s a ' s comment t o a man who has saved h e r l i f e i s o b v i o u s ; i t r e s t o r e s the play to the l e v e l o f f a r c e .  N e v e r t h e l e s s , Orton i s  u s i n g v i o l e n c e f o r p a r t i c u l a r e f f e c t h e r e ; l e s t we s h o u l d miss t h e p o i n t , he d e m o n s t r a t e s  i t again i n a remarkably s i m i l a r i n c i d e n t .  T e s s a is_ t r a p p e d . She s h r i n k s away. T e s s a : No. Don't t o u c h me. P l e a s e l e t me a l o n e . C a u l f i e l d pushes t h e gun i n t o her f a c e . He p u l l s t h e t r i g g e r .  84  C l i c k o f b a r r e l t u r n i n g . He p u l 1 s t h e t r i g g e r a g a i n . C l i c k o f b a r r e l t u r n i n g . C a u l f i e l d examines the gun. C a u l f i e l d : I t s empty. T e s s a g i v e s a c r y o f r e l i e f and b u r s t s i n t o t e a r s , (p. 357) Once a g a i n t h e t e n s i o n i s g r e a t e r than t h e l a u g h t e r .  O r t o n breaks down  t h e d i s t a n c e between a c t o r and a u d i e n c e ; he smashes t h e a t r i c a l c o n v e n t i o n s to give his plays the g r e a t e s t p o s s i b l e relevance.  Here he i s  concerned  n o t w i t h m a i n t a i n i n g t h e c o r r e c t p r o p o r t i o n s o f humour and s u s p e n s e to c r e a t e a funny, i n t e r e s t i n g p l a y , but w i t h e m p h a s i s i n g  t h e amount  o f v i o l e n c e i n our l i v e s , ; n o t n e c e s s a r i l y i n such a c o n c r e t e p h y s i c a l f o r m , but as a metaphor f o r mental and e m o t i o n a l  violence.  Thus t h e  c o n n e c t i o n between r e l i g i o n and b r u t e f o r c e works on two l e v e l s :  first,  i t i s an e x c e l l e n t , and amusing, image o f h y p o c r i s y . What an amazing s i g h t — one a n o t h e r . (p. 356) Moreover,  two men o f God t r y i n g t o t h r o t t l e  i t d e m o n s t r a t e s O r t o n ' s view o f t h e e f f e c t r e l i g i o n has on  men's m i n d s , s i n c e he e n v i s i o n s r e l i g i o u s dogma as an attempt  to  manipulate  and c o n t r o l mankind. The a t t a c k on h y p o c r i s y i n t h i s p l a y i s n o t r e s t r i c t e d t o t h e c h a r a c t e r s ' a t t i t u d e s to r e l i g i o n :  P r i n g l e ' s p r o t e s t a t i o n s o f d i s r e g a r d f o r money  ( d e s p i t e d i r e c t e v i d e n c e t o t h e c o n t r a r y ) , and M c C o r q u o d a l e ' s i n a b i l i t y to admit t h e t r u t h a b o u t h i s b e h a v i o u r a r e a l s o s a t i r i s e d .  We know  M c C o r q u o d a l e has k i l l e d h i s w i f e , y e t he i s a n x i o u s t o m i n i m i s e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r her  his  death.  M c C o r q u o d a l e : The a c t u a l b u r i a l was done by t h e N a t i o n a l Coal b o a r d . She's under a ton> o f s m o k e l e s s . I got i t a t t h e r e d u c e d summer r a t e . C a u l f i e l d : You're a m u r d e r e r ? M c C o r q u o d a l e : T h e s e 'with i t ' e x p r e s s i o n s a r e n ' t f a m i l i a r t o me. (pp. 331-2)  85  The s e m a n t i c q u i b b l i n g i s v e r y e f f e c t i v e . his  McCorquodale d e m o n s t r a t e s  g u i l t by h i s f u t i l e e q u i v o c a t i o n ; he a l s o makes h i s a m o r a l i t y c l e a r .  In t h i s s o c i e t y , murder i s a mere t e r m ; M c C o r q u o d a l e , who c o n s i d e r s he had adequate r e a s o n s f o r k i l l i n g h i s w i f e , does n o t t h i n k o f h i m s e l f as a m u r d e r e r .  Here, as i n most o f O r t o n ' s p l a y s , a c o m p l e t e l y amoral  u n i v e r s e e x i s t s ; t h e c h a r a c t e r s behave " n a t u r a l l y " -- t h a t i s t h e y f o l l o w t h e i r i n s t i n c t s a n d e m o t i o n s ; t h e y obey no laws o f s o c i e t y e x c e p t to m a i n t a i n an a p p e a r a n c e o f g e n t i l i t y . I n d e e d , t h e amoral p e r v e r s i t y o f s o c i e t y i s shown q u i t e c l e a r l y i n F u n e r a l Games.  P r i n g l e i s i d o l i s e d by a l l women once i t i s t h o u g h t  he has murdered h i s w i f e : them l i k e f l i e s " ( p . 343).  " I t ' s my u n s a v o u r y r e p u t a t i o n .  Attracts  This p o r t r a i t i s a parody, a perversion  of t h e t y p i c a l r a k i s h hero o f n o v e l and s c r e e n . These h e r o e s a r e n e a r l y always w i c k e d , " l o v e 'em and l e a v e 'em" t y p e s , men who a r e a t t r a c t i v e for  t h e i r d e v i l - m a y - c a r e a t t i t u d e s , and t h e i r r e c k l e s s , r u t h l e s s a p p r o a c h  to l i f e . yet  Pringle i s the almost l o g i c a l extension o f the prototype,  he d i f f e r s i n one v i t a l r e s p e c t :  he i s s u p p o s e d t o be a m u r d e r e r .  T h i s v i t a l d i f f e r e n c e , which s h o u l d make women wary o f him, o n l y s e r v e s to make him even more a t t r a c t i v e ; s o c i e t y i s so s e n s a t i o n - s e e k i n g t h a t a m u r d e r e r i m m e d i a t e l y a c h i e v e s a c e r t a i n s t a t u s , a measure o f n o t o r i e t y . ^ T h i s was a p r e s e n t f r o m a woman j o u r n a l i s t . She wanted t h e p r i v i l e g e o f k i s s i n g hands t h a t had t a k e n human l i f e . ( p . 334) T h e r e c a n be l i t t l e d o u b t t h a t t h i s view o f mankind i s e a s i l y r e c o g n i s a b l e : t h i s i s one o f t h e most e f f e c t i v e themes o f t h e p l a y . M c C o r q u o d a l e ' s r e f u s a l t o a d m i t h i s g u i l t , and P r i n g l e ' s f e a r l e s t his  i n n o c e n c e be d i s c o v e r e d a r e m o t i v a t e d by t h e same c a u s e :  an  86  overwhelming  concern with appearances.  In t h i s p l a y , as i n much o f  O r t o n ' s work, t h e d i s c r e p a n c y between what t h e c h a r a c t e r s a c t u a l l y do and t h e f a c e t h e y p r e s e n t t o t h e w o r l d i s g r e a t .  H e r e , O r t o n uses a  neat t w i s t :  f o r once, one o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s i s t r a d i n g on h i s ' e v i l '  reputation.  P r i n g l e ' s h y p o c r i s y i s a d i r e c t i n v e r s i o n and parody o f  McCorquodale's;  he i s p r e t e n d i n g t o be g u i l t y , McCorquodale  t o be i n n o c e n t .  T h i s h i l a r i o u s c o n t r a s t r e i n f o r c e s man's l u d i c r o u s c o n c e r n w i t h  how  t h i n g s seem; and t h e humour o f t h e s i t u a t i o n i s t y p i f i e d by T e s s a ' s d i s c u s s i o n o f h e r murder. I t i s n ' t the k i n d o f d e a t h I'd hoped f o r . However, as l o n g as I was f u l l y d r e s s e d and had r e c e n t l y a t t e n d e d some p l a c e o f w o r s h i p I won't w i t h h o l d my c o n s e n t , (p. 341) O r t o n ' s b r i l l i a n t f a c i l t y f o r language c a p t u r e s t h e e u p h e m i s t i c d i s l o c a t i o n between a c h a r a c t e r ' s b e h a v i o u r and h i s words.. Games euphemisms abound.  In F u n e r a l  Some o f t h e s e a r e , however, s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t ;  t h e y a r e d o u b l e - e n t e n d r e s , s l i g h t l y smutty j o k e s m a s q u e r a d i n g a cover of g e n t i l i t y .  under  Thus when P r i n g l e admits t o t h e s e d u c t i o n o f  V a l e r i e h i s language seems p u r e , even e c u m e n i c a l on t h e s u r f a c e , but has a n o t h e r , q u i t e o p p o s i t e and v e r y s e x u a l meaning. The s p i r i t o f t h e B r o t h e r h o o d e n t e r e d V a l e r i e a b o u t a y e a r p r i o r t o her d e a t h , (p. 358) A n o t h e r a s p e c t o f d i s l o c a t i o n i n t h e language o f t h i s p l a y i s seen i n a number o f exchanges  i n which t h e r e p l y i s based on a m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g ,  or p a r t i a l understanding o f the previous statement. T e s s a : I've bought a c a k e . McCorquodale: Is i t an a n n i v e r s a r y ? T e s s a : No. I t ' s a Dundee, (p. 347) T h i s e p i t o m i s e s man's i n a b i l i t y t o communicate w i t h o t h e r men;  i t is  a l s o a w o n d e r f u l example o f T e s s a ' s a b s u r d l i t e r a l n e s s , her i n s i s t e n c e  87  on t a k i n g e v e r y comment a t f a c e v a l u e . T e s s a : What happened t o y o u r w i f e ? McCorquodale: She was t a k e n up t o Heaven. In a f i e r y c h a r i o t . D r i v e n by an a n g e l . T e s s a : What nonsense. V a l e r i e would n e v e r a c c e p t a l i f t from a s t r a n g e r ,  (p. 351)  T h i s d e v i c e e n c a p s u l a t e s many o f t h e f r u s t r a t i o n s o f man's e f f o r t s t o make h i m s e l f u n d e r s t o o d ; however O r t o n a l s o uses i t f o r i t s v e r y funny effects. P r i n g l e : A l o v e - n e s t a d j a c e n t t o a bookshop. I do hope she h a s n ' t b e t r a y e d me w i t h a seedy i n t e l l e c t u a l . C a u l f i e l d : ( t u r n i n g t h e l e t t e r o v e r ) . The watermark i s i n the form o f a f r o g . P r i n g l e : A F r e n c h i n t e l l e c t u a l would be even worse, (p. 326) T h i s t e c h n i q u e i s v e r y c l o s e t o a n o t h e r l i n g u i s t i c form used i n t h i s play:  the v a u d e v i l l i a n o n e - l i n e j o k e .  The b e s t examples o f t h i s d e v i c e  a r e both punning and somewhat " s i c k , " but v e r y , v e r y amusing. C a u l f i e l d : I c o u l d n ' t g e t her head o f f . I t must be g l u e d on. McCorquodale: She always was a h e a d s t r o n g woman. C a u l f i e l d : I had t o t a k e a hand i n s t e a d . T e s s a : ( t o C a u l f i e l d , o v e r h e r s h o u l d e r ) . Do you want t o wash y o u r hands b e f o r e t e a . C a u l f i e l d : Yes. C a u l f i e l d goes t o the s i n k . He washes t h e hand and h i s own, ( p . 348) The humour here i s o b v i o u s ; i n d e e d i t i s t h e l i n g u i s t i c i n g e n u i t y t h a t e n a b l e s us t o l a u g h a t t h e v i s i o n o f C a u l f i e l d v a i n l y t r y i n g t o s e v e r t h e c o r p s e ' s neck w i t h a meat c l e a v e r , and t o a c c e p t t h e s i g h t o f t h e b l o o d y s e v e r e d hand. The b l o o d y hand, t h e murder and t h e g e n e r a l l y v i o l e n t tone o f t h e p l a y , p l a c e s i t f i r m l y i n t h e t r a d i t i o n o f Grand G u i g n o l .  I t seems a t  times as i f O r t o n i s making f u n o f t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l h o r r o r o f t h i s t r a d i t i o n ; c e r t a i n l y T e s s a ' s r e s p o n s e t o f i n d i n g a human hand i n her cake t i n shows l e s s o u t r a g e and shock than r e m a r k a b l e p r e s e n c e o f mind.  88  "It's real.  I can s p o t p l a s t i c f i n g e r s a m i l e o f f " ( p . 350).  o f t h i s l i n e i s w o n d e r f u l ; one i s tempted f o r any deeper meaning.  The humour  not t o a n a l y s e i t o r t o probe  However, i f t h e r e i s an u n d e r l y i n g comment t o  be f o u n d , t h e v i s i o n o f s o c i e t y p r e s e n t e d here must s u r e l y be s i m i l a r t o t h a t i n L o o t when T r u s c o t t i s u n a b l e t o r e c o g n i s e Mrs. McLeavy's eye.  T e s s a does r e c o g n i s e t h e hand as " r e a l , " but t h e manner i n which  she does so n e g a t e s some a s p e c t s o f her humanity. There i s n o t much v a r i e t y t o t h e language s i n c e t h e r e i s l i t t l e d i s t i n c t i o n made between t h e c h a r a c t e r ' s methods o f s p e a k i n g .  Pringle  does a t times l a u n c h f o r t h w i t h e v a n g e l i s t i c f e r v o u r : T r u s t i n t h e L o r d . We s h a l l meet i n t h e g l o r y o f t h e I n f i n i t e Morning, (p. 341) In g e n e r a l , however, t h e l a n g u a g e , a l t h o u g h v e r y f u n n y , s u f f e r s f r o m t h e f a u l t s o f t h e p l a y as a whole.  The c h a r a c t e r s a r e v e r y weak --  even  f o r f a r c e c h a r a c t e r s ; t h e y a r e by no means as f u l l y drawn as t h o s e i n L o o t o r The Erpingham be o n e - d i m e n s i o n a l  Camp, f o r example.  Thus the language t e n d s t o  and d i r e c t e d towards g e t t i n g a l a u g h , r a t h e r than  an o r g a n i c outgrowth o f t h e c h a r a c t e r . F u n e r a l Games b r i e f l y s a t i r i s e s o t h e r a s p e c t s o f s o c i e t y --  McCorquodale's  l o n e l i n e s s , Val's f e r v e n t b e l i e f i n a u t h o r i t y , the nurse's l a c k o f concern f o r her p a t i e n t -- a l l t o p i c s t r e a t e d i n i n f i n i t e l y more d e t a i l i n previous plays.  Indeed, i n t h i s p l a y t h e s e i d e a s a r e j u s t thrown i n  as o n e - o f f j o k e s and a r e n e v e r f u l l y d e v e l o p e d .  In c o n t r a s t t h e r e l i g i o u s  s a t i r e i s o v e r - d e v e l o p e d , i n t h a t P r i n g l e ' s b e h a v i o u r i s o f t e n so u n c h r i s t i a n t h a t f o r t h e most p a r t one f o r g e t s t h a t he i s a p r i e s t ; thus t h e f o r c e of the attack i s diminished.  O r t o n does n o t make t h e b e s t use o f h i s  m a r v e l l o u s a b i l i t y t o shock us i n t o a w a r e n e s s ; we a r e amused but do n o t  89  r e a l l y a c c e p t much o f t h e s a t i r e as r e l e v a n t .  The f e e l i n g o f u n r e a l i t y ,  o f f a i r y - t a l e , i s compounded by t h e e n d i n g , i n w h i c h , f o r t h e o n l y i n Orton's p l a y s , t h e f o r c e s o f e v i l a r e vanquished.  time  One o f t h e most  e f f e c t i v e e l e m e n t s o f Orton's work i s h i s uncompromising r e a l i s m : a m o r a l i t y i s seen t o pay; c o n t r a r y t o p o p u l a r r e p o r t , s o c i e t y does n o t c a r e f o r and p r o t e c t t h e meek and good.  I t i s t h e r e f o r e an e x t r e m e l y  u n s a t i s f a c t o r y e n d i n g t o F u n e r a l Games t o have P r i n g l e a r r e s t e d , a l t h o u g h one can s e e t h a t O r t o n ' s sense o f p o e t i c j u s t i c e was amused a t t h e t h o u g h t o f a r r e s t i n g a man f o r a c r i m e he had b o a s t e d o f , b u t n o t c o m m i t t e d . The u n s a t i s f a c t o r y a s p e c t c o n s i s t s o f t h e a r r e s t s o f M c C o r q u o d a l e , T e s s a and C a u l f i e l d , s i n c e by a r r e s t i n g M c C o r q u o d a l e , j u s t i c e i s a c t u a l l y b e i n g done.  In f a c t t h e whole p l o t a p p e a r s t o o i n t r u s i v e , t o o i m p o r t a n t  and. complex i n and o f i t s e l f , and thus d e t r a c t s from t h e f o r c e o f t h e satire.  T h e r e i s l i t t l e o f t h e powerful  f e e l i n g we u s u a l l y g e t from  an O r t o n p l a y : no sense o f man b e i n g m a n i p u l a t e d ,  only a s l i g h t  glimpse  o f t h e a n a r c h i c and n i g h t m a r i s h q u a l i t i e s o f s o c i e t y , and a v e r y weak s a t i r i c e f f e c t . D e s p i t e some w i t t y j o k e s , t h e r e f o r e , F u n e r a l Games must be c o n s i d e r e d t h e l e a s t s a t i s f a c t o r y o f O r t o n ' s  What t h e B u t l e r Saw, O r t o n ' s f i n a l  plays.  p l a y , produced posthumously i n  1969, has c r e a t e d more c r i t i c a l c o n t r o v e r s y than any o f h i s p r e v i o u s work.  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r ' s i n i t i a l r e a c t i o n was t o c a l l i t "a v e r y 43  bad p l a y , " an o p i n i o n which he m o d i f i e d o n l y s l i g h t l y on r e f l e c t i o n . Both [ F u n e r a l Games and What t h e B u t l e r Saw] g i v e t h e i m p r e s s i o n o f b e i n g , a t b e s t , rough d r a f t s w h i c h he [ O r t o n ] would s u r e l y have changed, e n r i c h e d , r e f i n e d o r p e r h a p s even have c h u c k e d away a l t o g e t h e r . . . . 44 The t h e a t r e c r i t i c o f The T i m e s , I r v i n g W a r d l e , c o n c u r r e d w i t h Mr.  90  T a y l o r ; however both H a r o l d Hobson i n The Sunday Times and R o n a l d Bryden i n The O b s e r v e r r e c o g n i s e d p a r t o f O r t o n ' s a c h i e v e m e n t .  Hobson  t h a t t h e t e c h n i c a l a s p e c t o f t h e p l a y -- a f a r c e w h i c h a l s o the conventions  of farce —  maintains  parodies  i s h i s o n l y i n t e r e s t , and t h a t t h i s e l e m e n t  i s " t o t a l l y s p o i l e d by g r a t u i t o u s o b s c e n i t y , " 4 5  but Bryden braves a l l  o t h e r c r i t i c a l o p i n i o n t o s t a t e c a t e g o r i c a l l y : " I n c o n s t r u c t i o n and s h e e r d e n s i t y o f w i t , i t seemed t o me O r t o n ' s b e s t  play."^  I t must be noted t h a t much o f t h e a d v e r s e c r i t i c a l o p i n i o n may be accounted  f o r by c o n s i d e r i n g t h e a u d i e n c e r e a c t i o n .  What t h e B u t l e r Saw  had a t e r r i b l e r e c e p t i o n ; t h e a u d i e n c e j e e r e d and booed t o s u c h an extent t h a t they p r a c t i c a l l y prevented performance.  t h e a c t o r s from c o n t i n u i n g t h e i r  T h e r e has been no a d e q u a t e r e a s o n g i v e n f o r t h i s  t h o s e c r i t i c s who d i s l i k e d t h e work t e n d e d t o view t h i s extreme as j u s t i f i e d annoyance on t h e p a r t o f t h e a u d i e n c e , t h a t t h e a u d i e n c e may have been o u t r a g e d jokes.  but Bryden  occurrence; behaviour suggests  at the scurrilous anti-Churchill  Whatever t h e c a u s e , t h e r e i s no doubt t h a t t h e a p p a l l i n g r e c e p t i o n  p r e j u d i c e d some c r i t i c s ; t h e r e v i v a l o f What t h e B u t l e r Saw a t t h e Royal C o u r t i n 1975 p r o d u c e d more t e m p e r a t e a u d i e n c e s  and r e v i e w s .  O r t o n i n v e n t e d h i s own g e n r e -- e p i g r a m m a t i c , s u b v e r s i v e f a r c e -- and t h i s p i e c e i s i t s f i n e s t , i f n o t i t s t r i m m e s t , flower.47 The r e a c t i o n s among academic o r l i t e r a r y c r i t i c s were much as one would have e x p e c t e d . camps:  W i t h o u t e x c e p t i o n , O r t o n ' s c r i t i c s f a l l i n t o two  t h o s e , l i k e John R u s s e l l T a y l o r and Keath F r a s e r , who c o n s i d e r  t h a t E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e i s O r t o n ' s b e s t work, and t h a t h i s l a t e r plays represent a progression down q u i t e t h e wrong path f o r h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c t a l e n t s . . . t a k i n g h i m s e l f f o r a f a r c e u r when r e a l l y he was a c h a r a c t e r comedian.48  91  and, on t h e o t h e r hand, the s c h o o l r e p r e s e n t e d Worth who  by John Lahr and  Katharine  f e e l t h a t O r t o n ' s g r e a t e s t a c h i e v e m e n t i s h i s use o f f a r c e , and  What the B u t l e r Saw r e p r e s e n t s t h e c u l m i n a t i o n o f t h i s a c h i e v e m e n t .  In  s p i t e o f , and p e r h a p s b e c a u s e o f the a d v e r s e c r i t i c a l and p u b l i c o p i n i o n s o f t h i s p l a y , t h i s l a t t e r group o f c r i t i c s a r e r e s o u n d i n g  in their  p r a i s e ; i n d e e d Frank M a r c u s , the a u t h o r o f t h e c o n t r o v e r s i a l p l a y K i l l i n g o f S i s t e r George, f i n d s d e p t h s t o What t h e B u t l e r Saw c r i t i c s do n o t  The  of which  conceive-.  I do c o n s i d e r i t t o be a c r u c i a l p l a y . I t h i n k f o r example i t ' s a much more p r o f o u n d and s e r i o u s p l a y than C h i p s W i t h E v e r y t h i n g o r Look Back i n Anger. And I t h i n k i t w i l 1 s u r v i v e and t e l l p e o p l e more a b o u t what i t f e l t t o be a l i v e i n t h e S i x t i e s than a l m o s t a n y t h i n g e l s e o f t h a t p e r i o d . 4 9 T h e r e can be l i t t l e d o u b t t h a t t h e s u b j e c t m a t t e r o f What t h e B u t l e r Saw  i s p o t e n t i a l l y profound  and s e r i o u s .  The p l a y ' s m o t t o , taken f r o m  The Revenger's T r a g e d y , s e t s o u t t h e c e n t r a l theme: S u r e l y we're a l l mad p e o p l e , and Whom we t h i n k a r e , a r e n o t .  they  Orton's focus of attack i s p s y c h i a t r y , which, l i k e C a t h o l i c i s m i n Loot, i s s a t i r i s e d n o t f o r i t s own s a k e , b u t b e c a u s e i t s e r v e s "as a metaphor f o r a s y s t e m w h i c h o p e r a t e s by m a n i p u l a t i n g  minds."^  The  manipulation  h e r e c o n s i s t s o f t h e a r b i t r a r y l a b e l s bestowed by s o c i e t y , n o t o n l y i n t h e terms o f s a n i t y and i n s a n i t y , but a l s o i n s e x u a l m a t t e r s . was d e s c r i b e d as a " p l e a a g a i n s t c o m p a r t m e n t a l i s a t i o n , " ^ i s even more a p p l i c a b l e t o What t h e B u t l e r Saw. o r d i n a r i l y o v e r t about h i s purposes i n t h i s p l a y .  Loot  but t h i s p h r a s e  I n d e e d , Orton i s e x t r a The p u r p o s e o f Dr.  P r e n t i c e ' s methods i s " t o l i b e r a t e and e x p l o i t madness," r e s u l t i n g i n "a l e s s e n i n g o f t e n s i o n between t h e sane and i n s a n e " (p. 32).  Orton's  that  92  p u r p o s e i s to d e s t r o y myths a b o u t i n s a n i t y : Prentice's behaviour  t h e a u d i e n c e i s aware t h a t  i s q u i t e n a t u r a l , or at the very l e a s t , l o g i c a l ,  y e t a p p r e c i a t e s why t h e o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s c l a s s i f y him as mad.  Insanity  i s thus seen t o be i n t h e mind o f t h e b e h o l d e r ; a l l i n f o r m a t i o n , w h e t h e r r a t i o n a l or l u d i c r o u s , i s twisted into proof. Ranee:  Has Dr. P r e n t i c e a t any time g i v e n you c a u s e t o d o u b t h i s own s a n i t y ? Mrs. P r e n t i c e : He's a r e s p e c t e d member o f h i s p r o f e s s i o n . H i s work i n a l l f i e l d s has been p r a i s e d by numerous colleagues. Ranee: R a d i c a l t h o u g h t comes e a s i l y t o t h e l u n a t i c , (p. 33) S o c i e t y i s seen t o m i s c o n s t r u e  t h e most i n n o c e n t o f i n c i d e n t s and  occurrences.  Mrs. P r e n t i c e : Are you ashamed o f t h e f a c t t h a t you w r i t e t o s t r a n g e men? P r e n t i c e : T h e r e ' s n o t h i n g f u r t i v e i n my r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e e d i t o r o f The G u a r d i a n , (pp. 37-8) This determination  to a s c r i b e a b i z a r r e purpose f o r every a c t i o n extends  t o an i n a b i l i t y to p e r c e i v e t h e n a t u r a l and p r o p e r f u n c t i o n s o f  people  and o b j e c t s . Ranee: A s k y l i g h t t o o ? Is i t f u n c t i o n a l ? P r e n t i c e : No. I t ' s p e r f e c t l y u s e l e s s f o r a n y t h i n g -to l e t l i g h t i n . (p. 21)  except  T h i s exchange d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e p e r v e r t e d p e r c e p t i o n s o f s o c i e t y . i s t h e f u n c t i o n o f a s k y l i g h t -- e x c e p t t o l e t l i g h t i n ? however, n a t u r a l b e h a v i o u r  i s d i s c o u n t e d and man  f o r t h e o b t u s e , a b s t r u s e and n o n - e x i s t e n t .  What  In t h i s s o c i e t y ,  is perpetually  searching  The n a t u r a l e x t e n s i o n  of  t h i s a t t i t u d e i s t h a t o r d e r and n o r m a l i t y , a l t h o u g h t h e y a r e words used w i t h g r e a t a u t h o r i t y by t h e c h a r a c t e r s , must be r e c o g n i s e d as o n l y r e l a t i v e terms.  The keyword o f What the B u t l e r Saw  i s " n o r m a l , " and  i n t y p i c a l O r t o n f a s h i o n t h e meaning o f t h i s word i s s t r e t c h e d ,  perverted  and even i n v e r t e d , u n t i l we have no i d e a what n o r m a l i t y i s . When Dr.  93  Ranee i n q u i r e s "Were y o u r r e l a t i o n s w i t h y o u r s e c r e t a r y n o r m a l ? " , he assumes t h a t n o r m a l i t y i s a h e t e r o s e x u a l  relationship.  Geraldine's  comment -- "I l i v e d i n a normal f a m i l y .  I had no l o v e f o r my f a t h e r "  shows a n o t h e r a s p e c t o f " n o r m a l i t y " i n t h i s s o c i e t y , w h i l e O r t o n  --  emphasises  the p o i n t by p r o v i d i n g a t h i r d c r i t e r i o n . Ranee: Did you f a t h e r have any r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s ? G e r a l d i n e : I'm s u r e he d i d . Ranee: Yet she c l a i m s t o have l i v e d i n a normal f a m i l y . The d e p t h o f h e r c o n d i t i o n can be measured f r o m such a s t a t e m e n t , (p. 26) O r t o n ' s own v i e w p o i n t , t h e l a c k o f any t r u e s t a n d a r d o r t o u c h s t o n e n o r m a l i t y i s put f o r w a r d by Ranee. a b n o r m a l " (p. 73).  of  "His b e l i e f i n n o r m a l i t y i s q u i t e  T h i s comment may seem i c o n o c l a s t i c and u n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c  o f Ranee, but i n f a c t i t d e m o n s t r a t e s the Catch-22 i m p l i c a t i o n s o f h i s own  rational psychiatry.  the p l a y :  Ranee a g a i n p o i n t s o u t t h e c e n t r a l theme o f  the d i s c r e p a n c y between t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f o r d e r / s a n i t y /  n o r m a l i t y and t h e r e a l i t y : Ranee:  (To N i c k ) Suppose I made an i n d e c e n t s u g g e s t i o n t o y o u ? I f you a g r e e d , s o m e t h i n g m i g h t o c c u r w h i c h , by and l a r g e , would be r e g a r d e d as n a t u r a l . I f , on t h e o t h e r hand, I a p p r o a c h e d t h i s c h i l d -- (He s m i l e s a t G e r a l d i n e ) -- my a c t i o n c o u l d r e s u l t o n l y i n a g r o s s v i o l a t i o n o f t h e o r d e r o f t h i n g s , (p. 60)  T h i s i s a b r i l l i a n t t h e a t r i c a l moment.  Of c o u r s e N i c k i s d r e s s e d  as  a g i r l , and G e r a l d i n e as a boy, t h e r e f o r e Ranee b e l i e v e s he i s s u b s c r i b i n g t o s o c i e t y ' s norms.  However, Orton u t i l i s e s t h e s e d i s g u i s e s v e r y  c l e v e r l y ; he b r e a k s down s e x u a l compartments so t h a t n o t o n l y i s Ranee's statement w i l d l y funny, i t i s a l s o l u d i c r o u s i n i t s concern with and t h o u g h t - p r o v o k i n g  externals,  in that i t inspires i n s t i n c t i v e d i s t r u s t in society's  methods o f c a t e g o r i s i n g p e o p l e .  I t s h o u l d be noted t h a t a s u p e r f i c i a l  reading of the play w i l l not n e c e s s a r i l y reveal a l l these q u a l i t i e s ,  94  p a r t l y b e c a u s e "the p a r a d o x i c a l theme o f madness and s a n i t y i n a p s y c h i a t r i c CO  c l i n i c seems hackneyed,"  and p a r t l y b e c a u s e o f t h e humour o f t h i s p l a y .  The amazing speed o f t h e a c t i o n , t h e b r i l l i a n c e o f t h e d i a l o g u e , t h e ( s u p e r f i c i a l l y ) o b v i o u s moral  tend  and  t o o b s c u r e -- a t . l e a s t f o r  t h e l e s s aware r e a d e r o r s p e c t a t o r -- the d e e p e r e l e m e n t s o f t h i s p l a y . What the B u t l e r Saw r e p r e s e n t s O r t o n ' s g r e a t e s t a c h i e v e m e n t :  an  e x c e l l e n t i n t e g r a t i o n o f h i s comments on s o c i e t y i n t o (what a p p e a r s t o be) t r a d i t i o n a l bedroom f a r c e .  C h a r a c t e r s z i p on and o f f t h e s e t i n  v a r i o u s s t a g e s o f u n d r e s s , men d i s g u i s e themselves versa, mistaken  as women and v i c e  i d e n t i t i e s abound; i n s h o r t t h e whole tone o f t h e p l a y  i s b r i l l i a n t l y summed up by t h e t i t l e , What t h e B u t l e r Saw -- t h e t r a d i t i o n a l t i t l e o f penny s l o t machines on p i e r s i n E n g l i s h s e a s i d e towns, w h i c h show a s e r i e s o f r i s q u e " t a b l e a u x . saucy and s l i g h t l y menacing n o t e s "  This t i t l e 5 3  "exactly catches  the  o f t h e p l a y , but b e n e a t h t h e v u l g a r  e x t e r i o r (which i s r e m i n i s c e n t o f a n o t h e r E n g l i s h s e a s i d e t r a d i t i o n , t h e s a u c i l y humourous Donald G i l l p o s t c a r d ) , Orton's a t t a c k on a l l h i s p r e v i o u s t a r g e t s i s renewed. As has been n o t e d , What t h e B u t l e r Saw i s b r i l l i a n t l y s u c c e s s f u l i n b r e a k i n g down s e x u a l b a r r i e r s , and a l l t h e more e x t r a o r d i n a r y f o r so d o i n g i n t h e c o n t e x t o f what i s s u r e l y one o f t h e most s e x i s t o f genres:  bedroom f a r c e .  However, n o t o n l y a r e s e x u a l compartments r e d e f i n e d ;  in t h i s p l a y Orton i s concerned taboos o f s o c i e t y .  w i t h e x a m i n i n g and a b o l i s h i n g t h e s e x u a l  Rape, i n c e s t , t r a n s v e s t i s m , nymphomania, b i s e x u a l i t y ,  l e s b i a n i s m , masochism -- a l l t h e s e and o t h e r s o c i a l l y condemned a b e r r a t i o n s a r e t r e a t e d as a m a t t e r o f c o u r s e .  Orton i s e x p r e s s i n g h i s i d e a l of  s e x u a l freedom; a l l a s p e c t s o f sex a r e t o be seen as n a t u r a l , and  sex  95  i t s e l f i s t o be viewed as a p l e a s u r a b l e r a t h e r than a commercial o r social enterprise. pretends  H y p o c r i s y a b o u t sex i s s a t i r i s e d ; Mrs.  Prentice  she has r e p u l s e d an a s s a u l t from N i c k , y e t a p p e a r s not t o have  w i t h h e l d v e r y much. When I gave m y s e l f t o you the c o n t r a c t d i d n o t i n c l u d e c i n e m a t i c r i g h t s , (p. 14) Indeed a t t h e end o f t h e p l a y she c o n f e s s e s t h e t r u t h . My son has a c o l l e c t i o n o f i n d e c e n t p h o t o g r a p h s w h i c h p r o v e beyond doubt t h a t he made f r e e w i t h me i n t h e same h o t e l . . . (p. 90) Not o n l y does Mrs. P r e n t i c e l i e t o both Ranee and P r e n t i c e a b o u t t h e a s s a u l t , she a l s o c o n s t a n t l y a c t s i n a manner d i r e c t l y c o n t r a r y t o h e r sexual f e e l i n g s .  P r e n t i c e c a l l s her a "rampant nymphomaniac," y e t a d m i t s  that D e s p i t e a l l a p p e a r a n c e s t o t h e c o n t r a r y , Mrs. P r e n t i c e i s h a r d e r to g e t i n t o than t h e r e a d i n g room a t the B r i t i s h Museum, (p. 40) T h i s comment, when c o n s i d e r e d w i t h h e r a d m i s s i o n  "My u t e r i n e c o n t r a c t i o n s  have been f a l s e f o r some t i m e " (p. 16) b u i l d s a v e r y complex, and somewhat c o n f u s e d  p i c t u r e o f s e x u a l f r u s t r a t i o n . However, O r t o n i s n o t  c o n c e r n e d w i t h a c c u r a t e s e x u a l a n a l y s i s -- i n d e e d i t would be d i f f i c u l t t o i d e n t i f y Mrs. P r e n t i c e ' s p r e d i l e c t i o n s w i t h any d e g r e e o f a c c u r a c y  --  but m e r e l y w i t h mocking h y p o c r i t i c a l s e x u a l p r e t e n s i o n s , w h e t h e r t o g e n t i l i t y or to amorality. U n h y p o c r i t i c a l s e x u a l i t y i s t r e a t e d as an a c c e p t e d norm. i n i t i a t e s a s e d u c t i o n o f h i s s e c r e t a r y as p a r t o f t h e  Dr.  Prentice  interview.  Perhaps you have o t h e r q u a l i t i e s w h i c h a r e n o t apparent. L i e on t h a t couch, (p. 10)  immediately  Rape and i n c e s t a r e d i s m i s s e d i n an e q u a l l y c a v a l i e r f a s h i o n ;  transvestism  96  becomes a m a t t e r o f c o u r s e , and Mrs. P r e n t i c e ' s m a s o c h i s t i c d e s i r e s a r e made w i l d l y f u n n y . ( e a g e r l y ) A r e you g o i n g t o beat me? Do i f you w i s h . Your p s y c h o t i c e x p e r i e n c e s a r e immensely v a l u a b l e t o you and s h o u l d be e n c o u r a g e d r a t h e r than t h w a r t e d o r r e p r e s s e d . (Dr. P r e n t i c e s e i z e s h e r , smacks her f a c e and t e a r s t h e d r e s s from h e r . She s t r u g g l e s . ) ( g a s p i n g as he s l a p s h e r ) . Oh my d a r l i n g ! T h i s i s t h e way to s e x u a l a d j u s t m e n t i n m a r r i a g e , (pp. 74-5) The a t t i t u d e t o s e x u a l i t y i n t h i s p l a y , t h e emphasis on a m o r a l i t y or sexual anarchy i s symbolised  by t h e m i s s i n g p a r t o f S i r W i n s t o n C h u r c h i l l .  Orton's a u d a c i t y i n r e d u c i n g t h e g r e a t e s t o f modern E n g l i s h s t a t e s m e n to a p h a l l i c symbol r e i n f o r c e s h i s c o n n e c t i o n between sex and s o c i e t y . For O r t o n , s e x u a l r e p r e s s i o n i s an emblem f o r s o c i e t y ' s c o r r u p t i o n ; i n t h i s c a s e , s o c i e t y ' s narrow-mindedness and i n s t a n t d e s i r e t o t h i n k t h e w o r s t o f p e o p l e i s condemned.  I t w i l l be remembered t h a t Mrs.  Barclay's  o n l y " r e l a t i o n s h i p " w i t h S i r W i n s t o n was t o have been k i l l e d i n t h e same gas e x p l o s i o n t h a t d e s t r o y e d h i s s t a t u e .  N e v e r t h e l e s s she i s spoken o f  as a whore. S h o r t l y b e f o r e her d e a t h her name has been l i n k e d i n a most u n p l e a s a n t way w i t h t h a t o f S i r W i n s t o n C h u r c h i 1 1 . Mrs. B a r c l a y ' s a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h the g r e a t man gave o f f e n c e i n some c i r c l e s , (p. 46) The o u t r a g e o u s  use o f C h u r c h i l l as a p h a l l i c symbol i s compounded by  Orton's b r i l l i a n t i n t r o d u c t i o n o f h i s u b i q u i t o u s c i g a r . part i s e x p l i c i t l y  The  missing  identified.  How much more i n s p i r i n g i f , i n t h o s e d a r k d a y s , we'd seen what we see now. I n s t e a d we had t o be c o n t e n t w i t h a c i g a r -t h e symbol f a l l i n g f a r s h o r t , as we a l l r e a l i s e , o f t h e o b j e c t i t s e l f , (p. 91) John Lahr sees t h i s as an emblem o f O r t o n ' s d r a m a t i c  achievement.  The p h a l l u s i s t h e emblem o f comedy's r u t h l e s s s e x u a l m i s c h i e v o u s ness and a m o r a l i t y . Nobody came c l o s e r than O r t o n t o r e v i v i n g t h i s s p i r i t on t h e E n g l i s h s t a g e . 5 4  97 Of t h e o t h e r a s p e c t s o f O r t o n ' s a t t a c k i n t h i s p l a y , r e l i g i o n i s d i s m i s s e d as "Always t h e l a s t d i t c h s t a n d o f a man on t h e b r i n k o f d i s a s t e r " (p. 3 5 ) , and t h e i d e a o f a g e n u i n e r e l i g i o u s e x p e r i e n c e i s b r i l l i a n t l y ridiculed. Ranee: Nick: Ranee: Nick: Ranee: Nick: Ranee: Nick: Ranee:  When were y o u f i r s t aware o f a s p e c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p with the Almighty? When I was p r e s e n t e d w i t h a copy o f t h e B i b l e bound in c a l f . Was i t an a u t o g r a p h e d copy? I don't t h i n k God a c t u a l l y s i g n e d i t . W e l l , o f c o u r s e , t h e s e t h i n g s s l i p one's memory. Was t h e r e an i n s c r i p t i o n ? Yes. What d i d i t say? W. H. Smith and Sons. Oh. They c o u n t as God. You've c l e a r l y had a g e n u i n e r e l i g i o u s e x p e r i e n c e , ( p p . 59-60)  The law i s e f f e c t i v e l y r i d i c u l e d by t h e v i s i o n o f S e r g e a n t Match i n a leopard-skin dress.  Not o n l y i s h i s appearance  a travesty of the British  p o l i c e m a n ' s p r o p r i e t y , h i s mental c a p a b i l i t i e s a r e a t r a v e s t y t o o . P r e n t i c e : Y o u ' l l be d i s a p p o i n t e d , S e r g e a n t , i f y o u i m a g i n e the boy has l o s t h i s v i r g i n i t y . Match: I hope h e ' l l be c o n s i d e r a b l y more e x p e r i e n c e d b e f o r e he l o s e s t h a t , s i r . ( p . 53) Once a g a i n , t h e common man's f a i t h i n j u s t i c e and i n t h e h o n e s t y , u p r i g h t ness and i n c o r r u p t i b i l i t y o f t h e p o l i c e f o r c e i s seen t o be m i s p l a c e d . P r e n t i c e : You i m a g i n e y o u ' l l be s a f e from a c t s o f i n d e c e n c y in a p o l i c e station? G e r a l d i n e : Of c o u r s e . Prentice:  I wish I s h a r e d y o u r o p t i m i s m ,  ( p . 54)  The l u n a t i c a c t i o n s o f t h e d o c t o r s a r e s u r e l y a parody o f t h e w h i t e c o a t e d i d e a l image p r o p a g a t e d by t e l e v i s i o n s e r i e s .  Ranee's  language  supports t h i s s a t i r i c attack; h i s prose i s that o f a romantic novel, h i s themes and p l o t s t h o s e o f m e d i c a l soap o p e r a s . A r e s p e c t e d member o f t h e m e d i c a l f r a t e r n i t y i s m a r r i e d t o a d a z z l i n g l y b e a u t i f u l woman. H o p e l e s s l y i n l o v e , b u t , t h r o u g h mutual d i s t r u s t , r e f u s i n g t o admit i t . . . ( p . 68)  98  Ranee i s a l s o the key t o a n o t h e r a t t a c k i n t h e p l a y -- a s a t i r e on l i t e r a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , o r t a k i n g t h i n g s too s e r i o u s l y . a c c u r a t e l y and c o n c i s e l y d e s c r i b e d by K a t h a r i n e  over-  Ranee i s  Worth.  He i s t h e e p i t o m e o f l i t e r a l n e s s and e a r n e s t n e s s and q u i t e t h e maddest c h a r a c t e r i n t h e p l a y , n e v e r f u r t h e r from t h e t r u t h then when he's c o n g r a t u l a t i n g h i m s e l f on h a v i n g found the r i g h t a n s w e r s . 5 5  Thus h i s d i a g n o s i s o f Dr. P r e n t i c e ' s i n s a n i t y and t h e o r i g i n s o f h i s i l l n e s s i n c o r p o r a t e e v e r y l i t t l e p i e c e o f i n f o r m a t i o n he has managed to  gather. I t r a c e t h e o r i g i n s o f h i s i l l n e s s as f a r back as t h a t f i r s t l e t t e r t o The G u a r d i a n . From t h e s t a r t l i n g i d e a s o f Dr. G o e b b e l s on t h e f u n c t i o n o f t h e male s e x u a l organ we pass q u i t e l o g i c a l l y to w h i t e g o l l i w o g s . An a t t e m p t , i n f a c t , t o change the o r d e r o f c r e a t i o n -- h o m o s e x u a l i t y s l o t s i n h e r e -- d a b b l i n g i n t h e b l a c k a r t s . (p. 68)  Ranee's t h e m a t i c f u n c t i o n s a r e m a n i f o l d .  He r e p r e s e n t s t h e m e d i c a l  profession  as an o b j e c t o f O r t o n ' s a t t a c k , but a l s o e p i t o m i s e s t h e madness o f s o c i e t y , and p a r t i c u l a r l y o f t h e  bureaucracy.  I r e p r e s e n t Her M a j e s t y ' s i n madness, (p. 20) Although  Government.  Your immediate s u p e r i o r s  many c r i t i c s d e s c r i b e t h e p l a y as a p a r o d y o f a f a r c e , t h e y  do n o t e x p l a i n t h e i r r e a s o n s o r O r t o n ' s i n t e n t i o n s i n so d o i n g .  Certainly  Orton u t i l i s e s t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y p h y s i c a l i t y t h a t f a r c e demands; t h e p l a y moves a t an amazing s p e e d , and many o f t h e images we r e t a i n a r e o f man's c o n t o r t e d and f r e n z i e d movements:  tearing off clothes, hiding  b e h i n d p i e c e s o f f u r n i t u r e , r u n n i n g on and o f f s t a g e .  In L o o t most o f  these f r e n z i e d movements a r e r e s t r i c t e d t o a c o r p s e ; What t h e B u t l e r  Saw  makes a more p o i g n a n t comment i n v i e w i n g humanity as p u p p e t s , "numbed 56 and d i z z i e d by t h e speed o f e x p e r i e n c e , " d i r e c t i o n s p r e s e n t a powerful  by l i f e i t s e l f .  p i c t u r e o f man's c o n f u s i o n and  The  stage  impotence.  99  Mrs. P r e n t i c e f i r e s . Dr. P r e n t i c e ducks and runs q u i c k l y from t h e room i n t o t h e g a r d e n . Mrs. P r e n t i c e f o l l o w s and f i r e s a g a i n . S e r g e a n t Match runs o u t o f t h e d i s p e n s a r y , t e r r i f i e d . S e e i n g him Mrs. P r e n t i c e screams. S e r g e a n t Match g i v e s a b e l l o w o f f r i g h t and runs i n t o t h e h a l l . N i c k runs from b e h i n d the desk~~into t h e h a l l . . . G e r a l d i n e . . . runs i n t o t h e d i s p e n s a r y . Mrs. P r e n t i c e runs t o t h e ward d o o r . As she r e a c h e s i t a s h o t i s h e a r d and N i c k r e - e n t e r s , moaning and c l u t c h i n g h i s s h o u l d e r ! (pp. 80-1) What an a c c u r a t e image o f man's e n t r a p m e n t i n s o c i e t y , h i s f e a r and h i s t o r t u r e d s c u r r y i n g h i t h e r and t h i t h e r -- a l l t o no a v a i l .  1  Orton i s not  p a r o d y i n g f a r c e h e r e , he i s e x t e n d i n g t h e g e n r e , as he d i d i n L o o t , by making i t an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f h i s comment on s o c i e t y . O r t o n i s w e l l known f o r h i s v e r b a l a b i l i t i e s , b u t on t h e s t r e n g t h of t h i s p l a y he can be h a i l e d as a m a s t e r o f t h e p h y s i c a l image.  The  s t a g e d i r e c t i o n s a r e , as we have s e e n , v e r y i m p o r t a n t i n e m p h a s i s i n g man's f r a n t i c s t r u g g l e s t o e s c a p e ; t h i s image o f i m p r i s o n m e n t i s r e p e a t e d w i t h g r e a t e r emphasis a t t h e end o f t h e p l a y . A s i r e n wai1s. Metal g r i l l e s f a l l o v e r each o f t h e d o o r s . The l i g h t s go out"! (~P- 86) The s e t has l i t e r a l l y become a p r i s o n .  S o c i e t y i s seen t o have no e s c a p e ; 57  "the  b a r s a r e a s t i r r i n g image o f s p i r i t u a l s t a l e m a t e , "  of l i f e .  o f the s t e r i l i t y  The b r i l l i a n c e and d a r i n g o f t h i s t h e a t r i c a l image i s s u r p a s s e d  o n l y by t h a t a t t h e end o f t h e p l a y .  S e r g e a n t Match, t h e deus ex machina,  s t i l l i n h i s l e o p a r d - s k i n d r e s s , l i k e an e x t r a o r d i n a r y melange o f T a r z a n CO  and "a B a c c h a n a l i a n b i s e x u a l god," r e s c u e s humanity by means o f a rope l a d d e r t h r o u g h t h e s k y l i g h t . The c h a r a c t e r s p i c k up t h e i r c l o t h e s and weary, b l e e d i n g , drugged and drunk, c l i m b t h e rope l a d d e r i n t o t h e b l a z i n g l i g h t , ( p . 92) What amazing r e s i l i e n c e O r t o n a t t r i b u t e s t o mankind^  The v i s u a l e f f e c t s  of t h e s e s t a g e d i r e c t i o n s e l e v a t e What t h e B u t l e r Saw above t h e l e v e l  TOO  o f f a r c e t o the s t a t u s o f a p l a y t h a t c o n t r i b u t e s a comment on man's struggle for survival. In a d d i t i o n t o r e a c h i n g new h e i g h t s i n t h e p h y s i c a l a s p e c t s o f t h i s p l a y , Orton m a i n t a i n s  a b r i l l i a n t l y c o n s i s t e n t l e v e l o f v e r b a l humour.  A p a r t from t h e o b v i o u s j o k e s t h a t can be made a b o u t s e x u a l  confusion,  What t h e B u t l e r Saw p o s i t i v e l y teems w i t h f u n n y o n e - l i n e r s , b e a u t i f u l l y p o i n t e d W i l d e a n e p i g r a m s , r i d i c u l o u s j u x t a p o s i t i o n s , and o f O r t o n e s q u e euphemisms.  One o f t h e most i m p o r t a n t  course,  f u n c t i o n s o f language  i n t h i s play i s to emphasise the f a r c i c a l element.  The t o r t u r e d v e r b a l  g y m n a s t i c s echo t h e p h y s i c a l c o n t o r t i o n s . Ranee: Have you s u f f e r e d from l a p s e s o f memory b e f o r e ? P r e n t i c e : I c a n ' t remember. Ranee: Y o u r memory p l a y s you f a l s e even on t h e s u b j e c t o f i t s own i n a d e q u a c y ? P r e n t i c e : I may have had a b l a c k o u t . I d o n ' t r e c a l l h a v i n g one on any o t h e r o c c a s i o n . Ranee: You m i g h t have f o r g o t t e n . You admit y o u r memory i s n ' t r e l i a b l e , (p. 31) The s a t i r i c f u n c t i o n o f t h e l a n g u a g e i s f u l f i l l e d through n o v e l " p r o s e , and h i s w o n d e r f u l l y of a l l f a c t s .  Ranee's " l u r i d  l i t e r a l (but m i s t a k e n ) i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s  O f t e n t h i s emphasis on l i t e r a l n e s s mocks t h e m e d i c a l  or  s c i e n t i f i c professions. As a t r a n s v e s t i t e , f e t i s h i s t , b i - s e x u a l m u r d e r e r Dr. P r e n t i c e d i s p l a y s c o n s i d e r a b l e d e v i a t i o n o v e r l a p . We may g e t n e c r o p h i l i a t o o . As a s o r t o f bonus, (p. 72) A t o t h e r times i t r e i n f o r c e s t h e theme o f the p l a y :  t h e l a c k o f any c l e a r  d i v i s i o n between madness and s a n i t y , n o r m a l i t y and a b n o r m a l i t y , and  illusion. Mrs. P r e n t i c e : Is t h i s b l o o d r e a l ? Dr. Ranee: No. Mrs. P r e n t i c e : Can you see i t ? Ranee: Yes.  reality  101  Mrs. P r e n t i c e : Then what e x p l a n a t i o n i s t h e r e ? Ranee: I'm a s c i e n t i s t . I s t a t e f a c t s . I c a n n o t be e x p e c t e d to p r o v i d e e x p l a n a t i o n s . R e j e c t any para-normal phenomena. I t ' s t h e o n l y way t o remain sane. Mrs. P r e n t i c e : I t seems r e a l . Ranee:  Who a r e you t o d e c i d e what r e a l i t y i s ?  (pp.  83-4)  Of c o u r s e much o f t h e humour i n What t h e B u t l e r Saw s p r i n g s from Ranee's l u d i c r o u s l y l i t e r a l r e p l i e s .  Some o f t h e s e a r e o b v i o u s l y based  on m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g and a r e O r t o n ' s v e r s i o n o f t r a d i t i o n a l m u s i c - h a l l cross-talk  -Match:  The d o c t o r s a i d he wanted t o put t h e boy i n some k i n d of club. Ranee: I t ' s no good t r y i n g t o do t h a t . Boys c a n ' t be p u t i n t h e c l u b . T h a t ' s h a l f t h e i r charm (p. 54)  -- o t h e r s a r e founded on a t o t a l l a c k o f communication,  on p u r s u i n g one's  own t r a i n o f t h o u g h t r e g a r d l e s s o f t h e r e s p o n s e . Ranee: What have you i n t h e way o f dogs? P r e n t i c e : A s p a n i e l and a m i n i a t u r e p o o d l e . Ranee: L e t them be u n l e a s h e d ! (p. 30) What t h e B u t l e r Saw a l s o r e f i n e s an a s p e c t o f language seen p r e v i o u s l y in Loot:  t h e s e r i e s o f " d i s l o c a t e d " r e s p o n s e s , where a r e p l y i s g i v e n  on an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t moral p l a n e from t h a t o f t h e p r e v i o u s s p e a k e r . Mrs. P r e n t i c e : The y o u t h wanted t o rape me. Ranee: He d i d n ' t s u c c e e d ? Mrs. P r e n t i c e : No. Ranee: The s e r v i c e i n t h e s e h o t e l s i s d r e a d f u l ,  (p. 34)  As i n L o o t , t h i s t e c h n i q u e d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e n i g h t m a r e q u a l i t y o f t h e p l a y and a c t s as an image f o r t h e a n a r c h y o f s o c i e t y . O r t o n ' s d e b t t o W i l d e i s seen more c l e a r l y here than i n any o f h i s previous plays.  Of c o u r s e t h e language i s e p i g r a m m a t i c a l and t h e w i t  W i l d e a n , but as K a t h a r i n e Worth d e m o n s t r a t e s , t h e p l o t s o f The  Importance  o f B e i n g E a r n e s t and What t h e B u t l e r Saw a r e " s t r i k i n g l y c l o s e a t c r u c i a l 59 points." She shows how O r t o n c o m p l i c a t e s W i l d e ' s i d e n t i t y theme:  102  As W i l d e ' s A l g e r n o n s t e a l s t h e i d e n t i t y o f E r n e s t , so N i c k and G e r a l d i n e s t e a l each o t h e r ' s s e c o n d a r y i d e n t i t i e s . . . G e t t i n g r i d o f the a l t e r ego, as i n W i l d e ' s p l a y , p r o v e s more d i f f i c u l t than c r e a t i n g i t . . . A g a i n , as i n W i l d e ' s p l a y , t h e c r o w n i n g j o k e comes a t the end when t h e i n v e n t e d i d e n t i t i e s t u r n o u t t o be, a f t e r a l 1 , t h e t r u e ones.60 T h e r e can be no doubt as t o O r t o n ' s d e b t t o The Importance o f B e i n g Earnest.  The denouement o f t h i s p l a y i s an e x c e l l e n t parody o f W i l d e :  the l i n e n c u p b o a r d a t t h e S t a t i o n H o t e l has many o f t h e s y m b o l i c q u a l i t i e s of M i s s P r i s m ' s handbag; t h e l u d i c r o u s d e t a i l s a b o u t t h e b r o o c h , " I t f e l l from the c o l l a r o f a p e k i n e s e , " mock t h e p r e c i s e d e s c r i p t i o n o f the  bag, Yes, here i s t h e i n j u r y i t r e c e i v e d t h r o u g h t h e u p s e t t i n g o f a Gower S t r e e t omnibus i n y o u n g e r and h a p p i e r d a y s ^ l  and Ranee's d e l i g h t a t h a v i n g h i s p s y c h o l o g i c a l t h e o r i e s p r o v e d t r u e i s a m a r v e l l o u s mockery o f t h e d e l i g h t e x p r e s s e d by t h e c h a r a c t e r s a t the end o f E a r n e s t . Oh what j o y t h i s d i s c o v e r y g i v e s me! ( E m b r a c i n g Mrs. P r e n t i c e , G e r a l d i n e and N i c k ) . Double i n c e s t i s even more l i k e l y t o p r o d u c e a b e s t - s e l l e r t h a n murder, (p. 90) The t i t l e o f W i l d e ' s p l a y i s o f g r e a t i m p o r t a n c e t o O r t o n , f o r s u r e l y Dr. Ranee e p i t o m i s e s t h e dangers o f b e i n g E a r n e s t .  E a r n e s t n e s s i n What  the B u t l e r Saw i s " t h e d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o c a t e g o r i z e and l a b e l and p i n CO  p e o p l e down,"  the very centre o f Orton's a t t a c k .  What t h e B u t l e r Saw i s O r t o n ' s g r e a t e s t p l a y .  I t p r e s e n t s h i s most  p r o f o u n d view o f s o c i e t y , embedded i n a t h e a t r i c a l l y b r i l l i a n t , w i t t y , f a s t - m o v i n g f a r c e , which i n i t s e l f a c t s as an image f o r man's s i t u a t i o n . The language i s a r a z o r - s h a r p i n s t r u m e n t o f a n a r c h y ; t h e v i s u a l  effects  p r e s e n t a p o i g n a n t and p r o f o u n d p i c t u r e o f man's s t r u g g l e . O r t o n i s  103  c a p a b l e o f making us l a u g h h y s t e r i c a l l y , then s t o p s h o r t i n f e a r when we r e a l i s e we have been l a u g h i n g a t o u r s e l v e s .  I t i s a tribute to his  a b i l i t i e s t h a t we can r e a d What t h e B u t l e r Saw, l a u g h c o n s t a n t l y t h r o u g h o u t , y e t l e a v e t h e p l a y f e e l i n g as i f we have l e a r n e d s o m e t h i n g v i t a l a b o u t both o u r s e l v e s and t h e human c o n d i t i o n .  CHAPTER  IV  The p u r p o s e o f t h i s s t u d y has been t w o f o l d :  f i r s t l y , to create  an awareness and a p p r e c i a t i o n o f O r t o n ' s d r a m a t i c t a l e n t s t h r o u g h a d e t a i l e d a n a l y s i s o f h i s p l a y s ; m o r e o v e r , t o show how O r t o n may be considered  a f o c a l p o i n t i n E n g l i s h comedy.  I t i s hoped t h a t O r t o n  w i l l n e v e r a g a i n be d i s m i s s e d w i t h t h e e p i t h e t " c o m m e r c i a l " ; h i s p l a y s may be b o x - o f f i c e s u c c e s s e s , hearted farces i n the Whitehall  although  they a r e by no means o n l y  light-  t r a d i t i o n . O r t o n ' s work d e m o n s t r a t e s  a c o n c e r n w i t h t h e i n d i v i d u a l i n s o c i e t y , a d e s i r e t o show man how he i s d e s t r o y i n g h i m s e l f .  In a d d i t i o n , i t s a t i r i s e s v a r i o u s e l e m e n t s  o f modern s o c i e t y , i n p a r t i c u l a r p e r h a p s , t h e W e l f a r e S t a t e , f o r t h i s s o c i e t a l phenomenon e p i t o m i s e s  a l l t h o s e a s p e c t s o f a u t h o r i t y and c o n t r o l  t h a t O r t o n d i s l i k e d so much. We can p r o b a b l y  b e s t sum up O r t o n ' s d r a m a t i c a c h i e v e m e n t by d i s c u s s i n g  the term B l a c k Comedy.  While i t i s true t h a t "gallows  humour," o r  s i c k j o k e s , o r w h a t e v e r p h r a s e one w i s h e s t o employ, i s c e r t a i n l y n o t a modern " i n v e n t i o n , " i t must be a c c e p t e d  that, in Britain p a r t i c u l a r l y ,  i n t h e l a t e 1960's, a whole s p a t e o f new p l a y w r i g h t s  were w r i t i n g i n  the same v e i n -- a v e i n t h a t can be l o o s e l y c l a s s i f i e d as B l a c k Comedy. A l t h o u g h t h e r e a r e no r u l e s s e t down f o r t h i s t y p e o f p l a y , t h e m a j o r i t y of playwrights  c o n f o r m t o two m a j o r a r e a s .  comedy i s f a r c e :  The p r e v a l e n t form o f t h e  the "black" aspect usually consists of a treatment o f  - 104  -  105  taboo s u b j e c t s -- p a r t i c u l a r l y d e a t h , s e x u a l i t y and s e v e r e d i s a b l e m e n t . I t i s c l e a r t h a t O r t o n ' s p l a y s a r e w r i t t e n i n t h i s manner, t h u s i t may be p o s t u l a t e d t h a t he a c t e d as a model f o r many w r i t e r s o f t h i s type o f drama.  I f we c o n s i d e r both h i s d r a m a t i c " a n c e s t o r s " and i m i t a t o r s ,  t h e c o n c e p t o f a f o c a l p o i n t becomes more c l e a r .  Some s p e c i f i c i n s t a n c e s  o f i n f l u e n c e have been mentioned i n t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n ; however, even i f we deny t h e v a l i d i t y o f some o f t h e s e p a r t i c u l a r examples, we can n e v e r t h e l e s s draw some g e n e r a l c o n c l u s i o n s . O r t o n ' s work f u s e s t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f t h e comedy o f manners, t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d ,  and,  o c c a s i o n a l l y , the p o l i t i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s of B r e c h t i a n t h e a t r e .  The  term O r t o n e s q u e has c r e p t i n t o o u r t h e a t r i c a l v o c a b u l a r y , but i s h a r d l y ever adequately defined.  I f we examine e x a c t l y what i s meant by t h i s  term, we see t h a t i t d e s c r i b e s O r t o n ' s unique b l e n d o f humour ( u s u a l l y c o n c e r n i n g a taboo s u b j e c t ) e x p r e s s e d i n h i s i n i m i t a b l e s t y l e . elements can be t r a c e d t o t h e a f o r e m e n t i o n e d t r a d i t i o n s :  These  t h e humour i s  d e r i v e d from t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f f a r c e , t h e use o f language from t h e comedy o f manners, and t h e use o f taboos t o shock t h e r e a d e r i n t o an awareness  i s t a k e n from t h e T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y , A r t a u d ' s m a n i f e s t o which  " f o r m u l a t e d some o f t h e b a s i c t e n d e n c i e s o f t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d . O r t o n ' s d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e on l a t e r d r a m a t i s t s i s , o f c o u r s e , i m p o s s i b l e to prove.  However, t h e r e i s l i t t l e doubt t h a t h i s s t y l e and s u b j e c t  m a t t e r d i d c r e a t e a t r e n d i n p l a y s , f i l m and t e l e v i s i o n .  The movement  towards b l a c k humour i n g e n e r a l , i s n o t , however, under d i s c u s s i o n h e r e ; we a r e c o n c e r n e d w i t h e x a m i n i n g t h o s e i n d i v i d u a l modern p l a y w r i g h t s who can be s a i d t o be O r t o n e s q u e  i n some r e s p e c t s . Among t h o s e a u t h o r s  106  who e x h i b i t t r a c e s o f O r t o n ' s i n f l u e n c e a r e D a v i d M e r c e r , Simon  Gray,  Tom S t o p p a r d and P e t e r B a r n e s . M e r c e r , whose e a r l y work i s contemporaneous him g r e a t l y .  with Orton's, resembles  Many o f M e r c e r ' s p l a y s a r e L a i n g i a n i n t h e i r s y m p a t h e t i c  c o n c e r n w i t h "madness, l o n e l i n e s s , n e u r o s i s and t h e b l u r r e d f r o n t i e r between what s o c i e t y c a l l s sane and i n s a n e . "  H i s p l a y s a b o u t madness  and s a n i t y , p a r t i c u l a r l y A S u i t a b l e Case f o r T r e a t m e n t ( l a t e r f i l m e d as Morgan), may w e l l have i n f l u e n c e d O r t o n i n some ways.  However, M e r c e r  l a t e r work, p a r t i c u l a r l y F l i n t , seems r e m a r k a b l y O r t o n e s q u e . ^  It is  n o t o n l y t h e s l i g h t l y manic c l e r g y m a n t h a t r e i n f o r c e s t h i s c o m p a r i s o n ; t h e s t y l e seems a t t i m e s t o be a d i r e c t copy o f O r t o n . I've been a g n o s t i c f o r o v e r f i f t y y e a r s . E v e r s i n c e I was o r d a i n e d . I doubt i f I c o u l d have s u r v i v e d w i t h o u t a complete lack o f f a i t h . ^ Moreover, t h e themes o f t h i s p l a y , a l t h o u g h more o v e r t l y p o l i t i c a l than most o f O r t o n ' s work, a r e v e r y s i m i l a r t o t h o s e o f L o o t , f o r exampl In F l i n t . M e r c e r i s c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e a m o r a l i t y and i m m o r a l i t y o f t h e C h u r c h , t h e r i d i c u l o u s i n s i s t e n c e on t h e s u p e r f i c i a l a s p e c t s o f t h e C a t h o l i c f a i t h , r e l i g i o u s h y p o c r i s y , and t h e i n c r e a s i n g l y commercial aspects of r e l i g i o n . C h r i s t m a s i s a commercial f a r c e , i s n ' t i t ? And t a k e l a s t E a s t e r . I've g o t two boys and a g i r l , came l a t e i n l i f e . What's E a s t e r t o them? C h o c o l a t e r a b b i t s , eggs, c h i c k e n s . . . (Pause.) I do have i r r e v e r e n t t h o u g h t s a b o u t i t a l l . Imagine i f you were t h e r e on c r u c i f i x i o n day. C a l v a r y . ( P a u s e . ) You walk up t o t h e f o o t o f t h e c r o s s . You cup y o u r hands t o y o u r mouth and c a l l up. (Cups h i s hands t o h i s mouth) ' J e s u s , ' you s h o u t . (Hands down) 'Yes?,' he s a y s . (Hands t o mouth.) 'I've b r o u g h t y o u r c h o c o l a t e r a b b i t , ' you s a y . (Pause.) T h a t ' s g o i n g t o c h e e r him up, i s n ' t i t ? T h a t ' s a r a r e o l d C h r i s t i a n message, i s n ' t it?5  107  A l t h o u g h t h e i r c o n c e r n s may be s i m i l a r , M e r c e r ' s t r e a t m e n t o f t h i s theme i s v e r y d i f f e r e n t from O r t o n ' s .  Mercer i s very o v e r t ; h i s c h a r a c t e r s  e x p l i c i t l y state his viewpoint:  " C h r i s t m a s i s a commercial  farce."  O r t o n ' s c h a r a c t e r s h a r d l y e v e r do t h i s ; i n s t e a d O r t o n p r e s e n t s an i m p l i c i t d r a m a t i s a t i o n o f t h e s i t u a t i o n he w i s h e s t o a t t a c k . In a d d i t i o n , many o f t h e o t h e r themes o f t h e p l a y , f o r example, F l i n t ' s v o r a c i o u s u n d i s c r i m i n a t i n g s e x u a l a p p e t i t e -- "What i f I'm omnisexual?  just  What i f I j u s t e n j o y e v e r y t h i n g ? " -- and t h e comments on  the c o r r u p t i o n o f the p o l i c e f o r c e appear works l i k e t h o s e o f O r t o n ' s .  t o have t h e i r o r i g i n s i n  Even t h e c h a r a c t e r s , p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e  l u n a t i c c l e r g y m a n , F l i n t , a r e O r t o n e s q u e , as i s t h e v i s i o n o f a n a r c h y p r e s e n t e d by t h e f a r c i c a l a s p e c t s o f t h e p l a y . no means m e r e l y a p a l e i m i t a t i o n o f O r t o n :  However, M e r c e r i s by  d e s p i t e h i s w o n d e r f u l use  o f f a r c e , he c o n s i s t e n t l y b r i n g s h i s p l a y s back t o a l e v e l o f r e a l i s m . As K a t h a r i n e Worth p o i n t s o u t : H i s f a r c i c a l t e c h n i q u e f u n c t i o n s as a d e f u s e r , t a k i n g t h e h e a t o u t o f t h e w i l d e v e n t s , a l l o w i n g us t o c o n t e m p l a t e them c o o l l y and r a t i o n a l l y ; p a r a d o x i c a l l y t h e f a r c e i n h i s drama i s n ' t a t u r n i n g away from m o t i v e and t h e a n a l y s i s o f m o t i v e , but a way o f l e a d i n g back i n t o i t . 6 U n l i k e O r t o n , who n e v e r p r o v i d e s m o t i v e s f o r h i s c h a r a c t e r s ' b e h a v i o u r , Mercer i s c o n s t a n t l y d e l v i n g i n t o p s y c h o l o g i c a l realms.  Despite these  e s s e n t i a l d i f f e r e n c e s , O r t o n and M e r c e r seem t o have s h a r e d a c o n c e r n w i t h c e r t a i n themes, and F l i n t c e r t a i n l y d e m o n s t r a t e s M e r c e r ' s d e b t to Orton. A n o t h e r d r a m a t i s t who i s s e e m i n g l y i n d e b t e d t o O r t o n i s Simon Gray. Whereas M e r c e r ' s l a t e r p l a y s d e v e l o p O r t o n e s q u e t e n d e n c i e s , Simon Gray has moved from t h e w r i t i n g o f B l a c k Comedy t o works o f a more r e a l i s t i c  108  nature.  H i s e a r l i e r p l a y s , e s p e c i a l l y Wise C h i l d and Dutch U n c l e seem  v e r y much i n t h e s c h o o l o f O r t o n .  7  Wise C h i l d t r e a t s t h e themes o f  h o m o s e x u a l i t y , t r a n s v e s t i s m , murder and r a c i s m .  The i m p r e s s i o n g i v e n  i s o f i m i t a t i o n O r t o n , p o s s i b l y because o f t h e use o f t a b o o s , but t h e r e i s no d e f i n i t e i n f l u e n c e t h a t can be shown i n t h i s p l a y , and c e r t a i n l y t h e language i s much f l a t t e r , much l e s s s p a r k l i n g and f u n n y than t h a t of Orton. work.  However, Dutch U n c l e shows a c l o s e r r e s e m b l a n c e t o O r t o n ' s  In t h i s p l a y , as John R u s s e l l T a y l o r s t a t e s , Gray " c o n t i n u e d t o  e x p l o r e t h e same s o r t o f s u b - O r t o n t e r r i t o r y , w i t h an o v e r l a y o f Donald Q  McGill seaside-postcard vulgarity c a r e f u l l y cultivated."  The themes  o f s e x u a l p e r v e r s i o n and murder a r e e v i d e n t h e r e , as i s t r a n s v e s t i s m . Moreover, t h e f a r c i c a l s i t u a t i o n w i t h ( l i v e ) b o d i e s t u m b l i n g i n and o u t o f t h e wardrobe i s q u i t e r e m i n i s c e n t o f t h e a n t i c s w i t h t h e c o f f i n i n L o o t , and t h e p e r v e r t e d , c o r r u p t , unaware p o l i c e o f f i c e r seems a d i r e c t d e s c e n d a n t o f T r u s c o t t . The d e a t h o f t h e g u p p i e s t h r o u g h Goodboy's i n c o m p e t e n t manoeuvrings  w i t h t h e gas p i p e i s s u r e l y somewhat s i m i l a r t o  t h e d e a t h o f t h e g o l d f i s h i n The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r .  This connection  i s s t r e n g t h e n e d by Goodboy's p e r p e t u a l c o n c e r n f o r and f e e d i n g o f t h e s e f i s h w h i l e he i s c o n t i n u a l l y p l a n n i n g t o murder h i s w i f e and D o r i s , a s i t u a t i o n p a r a l l e l t o J o y c e ' s l a c k o f c o n c e r n f o r humanity, b u t g r i e f f o r her g o l d f i s h .  A c o n n e c t i o n can be made between t h e t r e a t m e n t o f  t h e g u p p i e s i n Dutch U n c l e , and t h e theme o f t h e g o l d f i s h i n Tom Jumpers.  Stoppard's  Here t o o , t h e l i f e o f a f i s h i s seen t o have more i m p o r t a n c e  than t h a t o f a p e r s o n :  .George's f u r y a t t h e d e a t h o f t h e f i s h (and t h e  t o r t o i s e and t h e hare) i s i n d i r e c t c o n t r a s t t o h i s t o t a l unawareness o f McFee's d e a t h .  109  Many c r i t i c s , , when w r i t i n g o f Tom S t o p p a r d , have been c o n t e n t t o l a b e l him as an " i n t e l l e c t u a l . " 9  T h i s l a b e l may have o r i g i n a t e d  because  so many o f S t o p p a r d ' s dramas a r e d e r i v e d from o t h e r p l a y w r i g h t s o r a u t h o r s ; o b v i o u s examples a r e t h e i n f l u e n c e and c o n t r i b u t i o n B e c k e t t and P i r a n d e l l o  of Shakespeare,  t o R o s e n c r a n t z and G u i l d e n s t e r n A r e Dead, and  t h e e f f e c t o f t h e S h a v i a n drama o f d e b a t e , W i l d e (and The Importance o f B e i n g E a r n e s t ) on T r a v e s t i e s . I t seems q u i t e c l e a r t h a t S t o p p a r d i s more W i l d e a n t h a n o t h e r modern p l a y w r i g h t s : h i s p l a y s a r e i n g e n e r a l "the w o r k i n g o u t o f an i n t e l l e c t u a l , a l m o s t one m i g h t s a y , a s c h o l a r l y conceit."^  C e r t a i n l y S t o p p a r d p l a c e s more emphasis on l a n g u a g e t h a n  any modern w r i t e r ; h i s p l a y s a r e p y r o t e c h n i c s o f v e r b a l w i t and a b i l i t y . In a d d i t i o n t o t h i s W i l d e a n i n f l u e n c e , S t o p p a r d i s o b v i o u s l y i n d e b t e d t o t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d ; h i s p l a y s have v e r y d e f i n i t e e x i s t e n t i a l u n d e r t o n e s (and i n t h e c a s e o f R o s e n c r a n t z and G u i l d e n s t e r n A r e Dead, existential overtones).  Thus S t o p p a r d , i n c o m b i n i n g t h e t r a d i t i o n s  o f comedies o f language and t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e Absurd, i s v e r y d e f i n i t e l y c o n t i n u i n g O r t o n ' s t r a d i t i o n , even i f he i s n o t d i r e c t l y i n d e b t e d t o Orton. By a more d e t a i l e d e x a m i n a t i o n o f S t o p p a r d ' s work, however, we can show a c l o s e r l i n k between S t o p p a r d and O r t o n .  The Real I n s p e c t o r Hound  c e r t a i n l y reminds one o f L o o t , p a r t l y because both parody  elements  o f d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n (as, i n c i d e n t a l l y , does A f t e r M a g r i t t e ) , but a l s o because I n s p e c t o r Hound and C h i e f I n s p e c t o r F o o t ("Foot o f t h e Yard") a r e v e r s i o n s o f t h e c o r r u p t p o l i c e m a n , T r u s c o t t . In A f t e r M a g r i t t e , B r i t i s h j u s t i c e i s shown t o be s o m e t h i n g o f a f a r c e ; l i k e t h e d e t e c t i v e i n L o o t , F o o t w i l l n o t l e t r u l e s and r e g u l a t i o n s p r e v e n t him from d o i n g  no  his  duty! Harris:  J u s t a m i n u t e . Have y o u g o t a s e a r c h w a r r a n t ? (Holmes p a u s e s . ) Foot: Yes. H a r r i s : Can I see i t ? Foot: I c a n ' t p u t my hand t o i t a t t h e moment. H a r r i s : ( i n c r e d u l o u s . ) You c a n ' t f i n d y o u r s e a r c h w a r r a n t ! F o o t : ( s m o o t h l y . ) I had i t a b o u t my person when I came i n . I may have dropped i t . Have a l o o k r o u n d , Holmes .... H a r r i s : Now l o o k here -F o o t : Can I see y o u r t e l e v i s i o n l i c e n s e ? ( H a r r i s f r e e z e s w i t h h i s mouth open. A f t e r a l o n g moment he c l o s e s i t . ) H a r r i s : ( v a g u e l y T ~ E r , i t must be a b o u t . . . somewhere. Foot: Good. W h i l e y o u ' r e l o o k i n g f o r y o u r t e l e v i s i o n l i c e n s e , Holmes w i l l l o o k f o r t h e s e a r c h w a r r a n t . ( H a r r i s s i t s down t h o u g h t f u l l y ) ! !  The t e c h n i q u e o f bamboozlement and v e i l e d t h r e a t s employed here i s i d e n t i c a l t o T r u s c o t t ' s i n s i s t e n c e t h a t he i s f r o m t h e Water B o a r d . McLeavy: Who a r e you? T r u s c o t t : I'm an o f f i c a l o f t h e M e t r o p o l i t a n Water B o a r d , s i r , as I've a l r e a d y t o l d you. McLeavy: But t h e w a t e r board has no power to keep l a w - a b i d i n g c i t i z e n s c o n f i n e d t o t h e i r rooms. T r u s c o t t : Not i f t h e c i t i z e n s a r e law a b i d i n g . McLeavy: Whether t h e y ' r e law a b i d i n g o r n o t t h e w a t e r board has no power. T r u s c o t t : I don't propose to argue h y p o t h e t i c a l cases with you, s i r . Remain where you a r e u n t i l f u r t h e r n o t i c e . 1 2 Bones, t h e d e t e c t i v e i n Jumpers i s a l s o i n t h i s m o l d . stupid  He i s r a t h e r  -George: Yes, I'm s o m e t h i n g o f a l o g i c i a n , m y s e l f . Bones: R e a l l y ? Sawing l a d i e s i n h a l f , t h a t s o r t o f t h i n g ? ! ^  -- and not e n t i r e l y above r e s o r t i n g to b r i b e r y and c o r r u p t i o n when need be. I s h o u l d t h i n k t h a t any c o m p e t e n t , o r b e t t e r s t i l l , eminent p s y c h i a t r i c e x p e r t w i t n e s s would be p r e p a r e d t o say so. Of c o u r s e , he w o u l d n ' t be cheap, but i t can be done, do you f o l l o w me?! 4 T h e r e i s a f u r t h e r s i m i l a r i t y between t h e " l u n a c y " o f Dr. P r e n t i c e i n What the B u t l e r Saw and t h a t o f George Moore i n Jumpers.  In both  cases  in  t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s a r e d e m o n s t r a t e d t o be f a r l e s s mad  than t h e  r a t i o n a l i s t s (Ranee and A r c h i e r e s p e c t i v e l y ) i n t h e s e p l a y s .  indomitable Orton  and S t o p p a r d  share i n a v i s i o n o f t h e A b s u r d , n o t as an e x i s t e n t i a l  contingency,  but as a form o f c o n t r o l , r a t i o n a l i s m and a u t h o r i t y .  Perhaps t h e p l a y w r i g h t whose a f f i n i t i e s w i t h Orton seem t h e c l o s e s t , and who  a p p e a r s to be c o n t i n u i n g and r e d e f i n i n g t h e genre o f b l a c k comedy  most s u c c e s s f u l l y , i s P e t e r B a r n e s .  He and s e v e r a l o t h e r modern w r i t e r s  ( f o r example Howard B r e n t o n and David H a l l i w e l l ) , have been d e s c r i b e d as w r i t i n g a new and complex k i n d o f b l a c k comedy. [They] t r e a t m a t e r i a l o f a c e r t a i n kind (thus sex murder o r c h i l d murder) i n a c e r t a i n way, d i s a p p r o v a l and i n a comic manner s u g g e s t i n g more complex than e v e r and t h a t dark f a n t a s y a r e t h e most d i r e c t and o n l y a d e q u a t e way o f t r u t h w i t h o u t compromise.15  murder, but without that l i f e i s and savage comedy t e l l i n g the  T h i s form o f w r i t i n g c o n t i n u e s t h e Orton t r a d i t i o n ; both t h e s u b j e c t m a t t e r and t h e t r e a t m e n t m e n t i o n e d here a r e O r t o n e s q u e .  ( I t i s a comment  on our age, however, t h a t o r d i n a r y murder i s no l o n g e r a taboo -- i n o r d e r t o shock one'has t o w r i t e a b o u t a p a r t i c u l a r l y n a s t y t y p e o f murder.) M o r e o v e r , A r n o l d H i n c h c l i f f e ' s comment t h a t P e t e r B a r n e s "wishes t o w r i t e comedy t h a t i s i n t e n s e l y s e r i o u s i n a t h e a t r e t h a t i s both a moral 1 c  p l a t f o r m and e n t e r t a i n i n g " Orton.  c o u l d e q u a l l y w e l l have been a p p l i e d t o  B a r n e s ' f i r s t s u c c e s s f u l play, The R u l i n g C l a s s , i s c o n c e r n e d  w i t h t h e b l u r r e d d i s t i n c t i o n between madness and i n s a n i t y , and i s a l s o q u i t e O r t o n e s q u e i n i t s r u t h l e s s p o r t r a y a l o f man's h y p o c r i s y -- e s p e c i a l l y a b o u t sex. T u c k e r , why a r e t h o s e t a b l e l e g s u n c o v e r e d ? S t a r k naked wooden l e g s i n mixed company -- i t ' s n o t d e c e n t S o c i e t y ' s c o n c e r n w i t h a p p e a r a n c e s and i t s r i d i c u l o u s a c c e p t a n c e  of  112  t h e 14th E a r l when he a p p e a r s sane and d e c o r o u s ( a l t h o u g h he i s i n r e a l i t y behaving l i k e Jack the Ripper) i s m a s t e r f u l l y portrayed here. The themes a r e n o t o n l y O r t o n e s q u e : t h e manner i s t o o . H i s a f f i n i t y w i t h O r t o n comes o u t i n h i s l e a n i n g t o V i c t o r i a n m a t t e r and manner and i n h i s way o f h a n d l i n g s i m i l a r l y s e n s a t i o n a l m a t e r i a l -- sex murders, b i z a r r e complexes -i n a s i m i l a r l y c o o l , deadpan s t y l e . ' 8  The f a r c i c a l s t y l e o f t h i s p l a y i s r e m i n i s c e n t o f O r t o n , as a r e t h e i n c r e d i b l y l i t e r a l exchanges w h i c h d e m o n s t r a t e man's l a c k o f i m a g i n a t i o n and concern  with tradition. Dr. H e r d e r : H i s l o r d s h i p i s a p a r a n o i d - s c h i z o p h r e n i c . S i r C h a r l e s : But he's a Gurney. Dr. H e r d e r : Then he's a p a r a n o i d - s c h i z o p h r e n i c Gurney who b e l i e v e s he's God. S i r C h a r l e s : But we've always been Church o f E n g l a n d .  A f i n a l , perpaps somewhat tenuous l i n k t o O r t o n i s t h a t t h e M a s t e r o f Lunacy i n t h . i s p l a y i s c a l l e d T r u s c o t t .  He, l i k e h i s namesake i n L o o t ,  i s c o r r u p t and f o o l i s h ; i t would be t e m p t i n g t o assume Barnes had  bestowed  t h e t i t l e o f M a s t e r o f Lunacy upon him, n o t o n l y f o r t h e n e c e s s i t i e s o f p l o t i n The R u l i n g C l a s s , but a l s o as a t r i b u t e t o O r t o n ' s c h a r a c t e r i zation. B a r n e s ' n e x t p l a y , The B e w i t c h e d , d e v e l o p s and s t r e n g t h e n s t h e genre o f b l a c k comedy even f u r t h e r .  R o n a l d Bryden sums up i t s i m p o r t a n c e :  In t h e b l a c k f a r c e o f Joe O r t o n , t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l w i t o f Tom S t o p p a r d , t h e Goyescan h o r r o r o f Edward Bond's E a r l y M o r n i n g and L e a r , t h e r e i s a common note w h i c h one c o u l d o n l y , a t t h e t i m e , d e s c r i b e b r i e f l y as J a c o b e a n -- a s e n s e o f t h i n g s f a l l i n g a p a r t , a b i t t e r d e l i g h t i n t h e i r new randomness, an a p p a l l e d d i s g u s t a t t h e s u p e r s t i t i o n and b r u t a l i t y r e v e a l e d by t h e c o l l a p s e o f t h e o l d o r d e r .... P e t e r Barnes g a t h e r s a l l t h e s e t h r e a d s t o g e t h e r i n The B e w i t c h e d . I t i s a neo-Jacobean p l a y w h i c h c r y s t a l l i z e s , c l a r i f i e s and p i n s down what i t i s l i n k s t h e J a c o b e a n s and h i s c o n t e m p o r a r i e s . 2 0  113  The B e w i t c h e d thus completes  the c i r c l e , as i t were, o f B l a c k Comedy,  by r e t u r n i n g t o one o f t h e r o o t s o r s o u r c e s o f t h e g e n r e .  Although  O r t o n ' s i n d e b t e d n e s s t o Jacobean drama has not been c o n s i d e r e d i m p o r t a n t enough t o d i s c u s s i n d e t a i l , O r t o n has o b v i o u s l y r e a d  and t a k e n some-  t h i n g from t h i s drama, as t h e e p i g r a p h t o What t h e B u t l e r Saw  demonstrates.  We can t h e r e f o r e see t h a t many modern p l a y w r i g h t s a r e f o l l o w i n g and r e s h a p i n g O r t o n ' s d r a m a t i c u n i v e r s e , n o t o n l y by w r i t i n g B l a c k Comedy, but a l s o by d e v e l o p i n g v a r i o u s o t h e r a s p e c t s o f h i s drama f o r example, h i s s t y l e and v e r b a l b r i l l i a n c e .  —  Nevertheless his greatest  c o n t r i b u t i o n t o E n g l i s h drama was p r o b a b l y i n t h e f i e l d o f B l a c k Comedy, m a i n l y because t h i s genre has had so much e f f e c t on B r i t i s h t h e a t r e i n t h e l a s t ten y e a r s .  The d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e s e newer p l a y w r i g h t s i s  not intended to d e n i g r a t e t h e i r o r i g i n a l i t y , nor to reduce Orton to the s t a t u s o f a mere i n n o v a t o r o r f i g u r e h e a d .  The a u t h o r s m e n t i o n e d i n t h i s  f i n a l chapter are a l l worthy o f i n d i v i d u a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n ; moreover, O r t o n , a l t h o u g h h i s form, c o n t e n t and even s t y l e may have been c o p i e d , p a r o d i e d and e x p e r i m e n t e d w i t h by numerous o t h e r w r i t e r s , r e m a i n s , as t h i s s t u d y has s u g g e s t e d ,  inimitable.  NOTES  Chapter I John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave (London: 1971), p. 125. 1  Methuen and Co.,  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o New E n g l i s h D r a m a t i s t s 8 (Harmondsworth, M i d d l e s e x : P e n g u i n Books, 1965), p. 13. 2  3 L.W., "Joe O r t o n " i n The Readers E n c y c l o p a e d i a o f World Drama, e d s . John G a s s n e r and Edward Quinn (London: Methuen and Co., 1970), p. 630. 4 F r e d e r i c k Lumley, New T r e n d s i n 20th C e n t u r y Drama, 4 t h ed. (London: B a r r i e and J e n k i n s , 1972), p. 323. Quoted i n James Fox, "The L i f e and Death o f Joe O r t o n , " The Sunday Times Magazine, 22 November 1970, r e p r i n t e d i n T h e a t r e '71, ed. S h e r i d a n M o r l e y (London: H u t c h i n s o n and Co. L t d . , 1971), p. 76. 5  6 John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The Complete P l a y s by Joe O r t o n (London: E y r e Methuen L t d . , 1976), p a s s i m . 1 I b i d . , p. 22. 8  I b i d . , p. 24.  "The B i t e r B i t " : J o e O r t o n i n t e r v i e w e d by Simon T r u s s l e r , Play_s_ and[ Players ( A u g u s t 1964), p. 16. 9  1° R. D. L a i n g , The P o l i t i c s o f E x p e r i e n c e (Harmondsworth, M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1 9 6 7 7 7 p . 12. 11  I b i d . , p. 50.  1 2  James Fox, "The L i f e and Death o f Joe O r t o n , " p. 68.  1 3  Joe O r t o n i n "The B i t e r B i t . "  14 L a u r e n c e K i t c h i n , Drama i n t h e S i x t i e s (London: 1966), p. 22.  - 114 -  F a b e r and F a b e r ,  115  !5 M a r t i n E s s l i n , The T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d , r e v . ed. (New Y o r k : A n c h o r Books, 1 9 6 9 ) , p . 3 6 4 . 16 M a r t i n E s s l i n , R e f l e c t i o n s (New Y o r k : 1969),  Doubleday and Co. I n c . ,  p. 1 8 4 .  17 A n t o n i n A r t a u d , The T h e a t r e and i t s D o u b l e , t r a n s . Mary C a r o l i n e R i c h a r d s (New York: Grove P r e s s I n c . , 1 9 5 8 ) , p . 9 3 . 18 John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The Complete P l a y s , p . 9 . O r t o n m e n t i o n s h i s a d m i r a t i o n f o r S t r i n d b e r g and T r a v e r s i n "The B i t e r B i t " ; James Fox c i t e s t h e i n f l u e n c e o f V o l t a i r e , S w i f t and Lewis C a r r o l l ( p . 7 1 ) , and i n an i n t e r v i e w w i t h G i l e s Gordon, T r a n s a t l a n t i c Review 2 4 ( 1 9 6 7 ) , O r t o n t a l k s a b o u t h i s a d m i r a t i o n o f W i l d e , P i n t e r and Beckett. 20 M a r t i n E s s l i n makes a c o n n e c t i o n between Lewis C a r r o l l and t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d , The T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d , p . 2 9 8 . 21 I b i d . , p . 3 0 4 . 22 M a r t i n E s s l i n , R e f l e c t i o n s , p . 2 0 . 23 Joe O r t o n , The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r i n Crimes o f P a s s i o n (London: Methuen and Co. L t d . , 1 9 6 7 ) , p. 1 5 . A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s a r e t o t h i s edition. 24 George W e l l w a r t h , The T h e a t r e o f P r o t e s t and Paradox (New Y o r k : New York U.P., 1 9 6 4 ) , p. 2 1 2 . 25 John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The Complete P l a y s , p. 1 8 . 26 R. D. L a i n g , The D i v i d e d S e l f (Harmondsworth, M i d d l e s e x : Books, 1 9 6 5 ) , p. 6 9 .  Penguin  2 R o n a l d B r y d e n , "Review o f L o o t , " The O b s e r v e r Weekend* Review, O c t o b e r 2 , 1966. 7  28 E r i c B e n t l e y , The P l a y w r i g h t as T h i n k e r (New Y o r k : H i t c h o c k , 1 9 4 6 ) , p. 1 7 6 .  Reynal and  Joe O r t o n , L o o t , 1 9 6 7 ; r p t . (London: A l l further references are to this e d i t i o n .  1975),  2 9  E y r e Methuen,  p.  66.  30 E r i c B e n t l e y , The P l a y w r i g h t as T h i n k e r , p . 1 7 6 . 31 O s c a r W i l d e , A Woman o f No Importance i n C o l l e c t e d P l a y s (Harmondsw o r t h , M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1 9 6 8 ) , p . 1 2 1 . 3 2  L o o t , p. 5 6 .  116  O s c a r Wi1de, The Importance o f B e i n g E a r n e s t i n C o l l e c t e d (Harmondsworth, M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1968), pp. 264-5. 3 4  L o o t , p. 31.  3 5  Joe O r t o n , Head t o Toe (London:  Plays  Anthony B l o n d L t d . , 1971), p. 149.  C h a p t e r II 1 Joe O r t o n , E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , r e v . ed. (London: E y r e Methuen L t d . , 1973), p. 94. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s a r e t o t h i s e d i t i o n and w i l l h e n c e f o r t h be q u o t e d i n t h e t e x t . 2 Joe O r t o n , The Good and F a i t h f u l S e r v a n t i n Joe O r t o n , The Complete P l a y s , p. 165. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s a r e t o t h i s e d i t i o n and w i l l be quoted i n the t e x t . Joe O r t o n , The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r i n New Radio Drama. i n John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 126. 3  4  p. 24.  H a r o l d P i n t e r , The Room (London:  Keath F r a s e r , "Joe O r t o n : ( 1 9 7 1 ) , 414. 5  Quoted  Methuen and Co. L t d . , 1960),  H i s B r i e f C a r e e r , " Modern Drama, 14  6 C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, "Joe O r t o n und das e n g l i s c h e T h e a t e r d e r s e c h z i g e r J a h r e , " Maske und Kothurn 19, no. 4 ( 1 9 7 3 ) , 326. ( I t i s r e p e a t e d l y n o t e d t h a t O r t o n ' s f i r s t two p l a y s e x h i b i t a d i s t i n c t i n f l u e n c e from P i n t e r ; t h e y i m i t a t e t h e s t y l i s t i c p r i n c i p l e s o f h i s "comedy o f menace." However, i t i s o f t e n o v e r l o o k e d , t h a t i n The R u f f i a n on t h e S t a i r as i n E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , a s u b t l e i n v e r s i o n o f t h e t y p i c a l P i n t e r s i t u a t i o n o f an i n t r u d e r ' s d a r k , t h r e a t e n i n g , m y s t e r i o u s i n f l u e n c e i n an i n h a b i t e d room t a k e s p l a c e . [ T r a n s l a t i o n mine.]) ^ Thomsen a l s o makes t h i s c o m p a r i s o n , but i n a d i f f e r e n t c o n t e x t . See n o t e 14 below. 8  John L a h r , A s t o n i s h Me (New York:  V i k i n g Books, 1973), p. 87.  9 John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 127. 1 0  Joe O r t o n i n "The B i t e r B i t . "  11 John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 129. C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, p. 327.  117  ^ M a r t i n E s s l i n , " C l a s s i c Echoes," P l a y s and P l a y e r s (June p. 35. 3  1967),  C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, p. 328. ( W i l s o n , l i k e J e r r y i n A l b e e ' s Zoo S t o r y , wishes f o r t h i s d e a t h , n o t i n o r d e r t o o b t a i n a s o r t o f q u a s i m y s t i c a l communication between v i c t i m and k i l l e r , b u t t o revenge h i m s e l f f o r t h e murder o f h i s b r o t h e r . [ T r a n s l a t i o n m i n e . ] ) 15 O s c a r W i l d e , An I d e a l Husband i n C o l l e c t e d P l a y s (Harmondsworth, M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1968), p. 157. 15 John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o New E n g l i s h D r a m a t i s t s 8, p. 13. 17 Norman N a d e l , "Review o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , " New York World T e l e g r a m , O c t o b e r 13, 1965. 18 R i c h a r d Watts J r . , "Review o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , " New P o s t , O c t o b e r 13, 1965.  York  W a l t e r K e r r , "Review o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , " H e r a l d T r i b u n e , O c t o b e r 13, 1965. |y  20 K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama G. B e l l and Sons, 1972), p. 150. 21  2 2  (London:  Ibid. Joe O r t o n i n "The B i t e r B i t . "  23  John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , r e v . ed. (London: E y r e Methuen, 1973), p. 6. ^ I n t e r v i e w w i t h G i l e s Gordon, T r a n s a t l a n t i c Review, 24 ( 1 9 6 7 ) , 94. 2 5  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 125.  ^ Bamber G a s c o i g n e , "Review o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , " O b s e r v e r Weekend Review, May 10, 1964. 2  2  ^ John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , p. 8.  2 8  2  Norman N a d e l , "Review o f E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr.  ^ O s c a r W i l d e , The Importance  O r t o n t a l k i n g t o t h e B.B.C. E n t e r t a i n i n g Mr. S l o a n e , p. 9. 3 0  Sloane."  o f B e i n g E a r n e s t , p. 267. Quoted by L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o  31 John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n , The Complete  P l a y s , p. 18.  118  3 2  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 135.  3 3  I b i d . , p.  136.  C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, p. 336. ( F o r t h e f i r s t time i n h i s c a r e e r as a d r a m a t i s t , O r t o n has come o u t f r o m b e h i n d h i s c o v e r o f i r o n y and c y n i c i s m , has shown h i m s e l f t o be v u l n e r a b l e and d e m o n s t r a t e s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s such as human warmth, p i t y and f i g h t i n g h a t r e d . [ T r a n s l a t i o n mine.]) 3 4  Ibid. [Translation 3 5  W. H. Auden, "The Unknown C i t i z e n . "  3 6  3  ( I t i s however, i n t h i s form, new t o E n g l i s h Drama. mine.])  ^ John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The Complete  P l a y s , p. 18.  C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, p. 336. (The workman a p p e a r s as a h a l f m e c h a n i c a l p r o d u c t , which w i t h o u t e x c e p t i o n h i s s k i l l r e p r o d u c e s and s e l l s , who wears o u t , r u i n e d by bad management, and i s t h e n s e t a s i d e and w r i t t e n o f f . [ T r a n s l a t i o n mine.]) 3 8  3  ^ John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 136. John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The Complete  4 0  P l a y s , p. 19.  Chapter III 1 P h y l l i s H a r t n o l l , ed., The C o n c i s e O x f o r d Companion t o t h e T h e a t r e (London: O x f o r d U.P., 1972), p. 170. 2  I b i d , p. 107.  E r i c B e n t l e y , "The P s y c h o l o g y o f F a r c e , " i n L e t s Get A D i v o r c e and O t h e r P l a y s , ed. E r i c B e n t l e y (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1958), 3  p. x i x. 4  5  6  Ibid. John L a h r , A s t o n i s h Me, p. 91. Ibid.  7 George B e r n a r d Shaw, M i s a l l i a n c e , quoted as e p i g r a p h t o L o o t . John L a h r , A s t o n i s h Me, pp. 89-90.  8  119  Joe O r t o n , What t h e B u t l e r Saw (London: Methuen and Co. L t d . , 1969), p. 28. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s a r e t o t h i s e d i t i o n and w i l l be quoted i n the t e x t . 9  10 John L a h r , A s t o n i s h Me, p. 89. E r i c B e n t l e y , "The P s y c h o l o g y o f F a r c e , " p. x. R i c h a r d W a t t s , J r . , "Two On The A i s l e , " New York P o s t , March 19,  12  1968.  ^ M a r t i n E s s l i n , "Review o f L o o t , " P l a y s and P l a y e r s ( O c t o b e r 1966), p. 19. 3  Douglas Watt, "Review o f L o o t , " New York D a i l y News, March 19,  1 4  1968.  15 Simon T r u s s l e r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o New E n g l i s h D r a m a t i s t s 13 (Harmondsw o r t h , M i d d l e s e x : Penguin Books, 1968), p. 10. "The B i t e r B i t . "  16  ^ Simon T r u s s l e r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o New E n g l i s h D r a m a t i s t s 13, p. 11. 1R E r i c B e n t l e y , "The P s y c h o l o g y o f F a r c e , " p. xv. ^  9  M a r t i n E s s l i n , "Review o f L o o t . "  Of)  R o n a l d B r y d e n , "Review o f L o o t , " O b s e r v e r Weekend Review, O c t o b e r 2, 1966. > Ibid. K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama, p. 150. 21  P h y l l i s H a r t n o l l , ed., The O x f o r d Companion t o t h e T h e a t r e O x f o r d U.P. 1952), p. 255. 2 3  2 4  p. 20. 2 5  Joe O r t o n quoted by John L a h r , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The Complete  (London: Plays,  Ibid.  ^ Joe O r t o n quoted by M a r t i n E s s l i n , " C l a s s i c Echoes," P l a y s and P l a y e r s (June 1967), p. 35. 2  S t a g e d i r e c t i o n i n Joe O r t o n , The Erpingham Camp i n Crimes o f P a s s i o n , p. 46. A l l r e f e r e n c e s a r e t o t h i s e d i t i o n and w i l l be q u o t e d in the t e x t . 2 7  120  C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, p. 334. ( E r p i n g h a m , however, behaves l i k e God t h e F a t h e r i n t h e m e d i a e v a l m y s t e r y p l a y s . . . . The c o m p a r i s o n i s n o t f a r - f e t c h e d . In a d d i t i o n t o h i s m e d i a e v a l d r a m a t i c h e r i t a g e , O r t o n i m i t a t e s E l i z a b e t h a n t r a g e d y . P r e p a r e d by t h e p r o p h e c y o f h i s h u b r i s from t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e p l a y , t h e s p e c t a t o r e x p e r i e n c e s Erpingham's d o w n f a l l from t h e z e n i t h o f h i s m i g h t . [ T r a n s l a t i o n m i n e . ] ) 2 8  2 9  I b i d . , pp. 334-5.  3 0  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 134.  31  Ibid.  The p a r a b l e o f t h e Gadarene swine may a l s o be seen as a B r e c h t i a n e n c a p s u l a t i o n d e v i c e which p o i n t s o u t t h e p o l i t i c a l moral o f t h e p l a y . 3 2  3 3  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 134.  3 4  M i c h a e l B i l l i n g t o n , "Wit o v e r t h e C o r p s e , " The Times, A u g u s t 27,  1968.  George M e l l y , "Review o f F u n e r a l Games," The O b s e r v e r Weekend Review, September 1, 1968. 3 5  3 6  Keath F r a s e r , "Joe O r t o n :  H i s B r i e f C a r e e r , " p. 418.  3 7  C h r i s t i a n W. Thomsen, p. 337.  J o e O r t o n , F u n e r a l Games i n The Complete P l a y s (London: E y r e Methuen, 1976), pp. 324-5. A l l r e f e r e n c e s a r e t o t h i s e d i t i o n and w i l l be q u o t e d i n t h e t e x t . 3 8  39 John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 136. 4 0  I b i d . , p. 137.  4 1  M i c h a e l B i l l i n g t o n , "Wit o v e r t h e C o r p s e . "  One need o n l y r e a d t h e enormous p r o l i f e r a t i o n o f a r t i c l e s on t h e l a t e Gary G i l m o r e t o r e a l i s e t h e p e r c e p t i v e n e s s o f O r t o n ' s comment. 4 2  43  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , "Review o f What t h e B u t l e r Saw" i n P l a y s and P l a y e r s ( A p r i l 1969), p. 25. 44 John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 136. H a r o l d Hobson, "Review o f What t h e B u t l e r Saw," The Sunday March 9, 1969. 4 5  Times.  R o n a l d B r y d e n , "Review o f What t h e B u t l e r Saw," The O b s e r v e r Weekend Review, March 9, 1969. 4 6  4 7  R o b e r t Cushman, i b i d . , J u l y 20,  1975.  4 8  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , P l a y s and P l a y e r s ( A p r i l 1969), p. 25.  Frank Marcus q u o t e d i n James Fox, "The L i f e and Death o f Joe O r t o n , " pp. 67-8. 4 9  p.  5 0  R o b e r t Cushman, "Review o f What t h e B u t l e r  51  O r t o n i n t e r v i e w e d by G i l e s Gordon, T r a n s a t l a n t i c Review 24, p.  5 2  Keath F r a s e r , "Joe O r t o n :  53  K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama,  153.  Saw."  H i s B r i e f C a r e e r , " p. 417.  John L a h r , "Review o f What t h e B u t l e r Saw," (September 1975), p. 21. 5 4  P l a y s and P l a y e r s  55  K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama, p.  5 6  John L a h r , A s t o n i s h Me, p. 94.  5 7  John L a h r , P l a y s and P l a y e r s (September 1975), p. 23.  5 8  K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama, p.  5 9  I b i d . , p.  151.  6 0  I b i d . , p.  152.  61  O s c a r W i l d e , The Importance  6  2  153.  153.  o f B e i n g E a r n e s t , p. 311.  K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama, p.  153.  C h a p t e r IV 1  M a r t i n E s s l i n , The T h e a t r e o f the A b s u r d , p.  336.  A r n o l d H i n c h c l i f f e , B r i t i s h T h e a t r e 1950-1970 ( O x f o r d : B l a c k w e l l , 1974), p. 146. 2  Basil  K a t h a r i n e Worth makes a s p e c i f i c c o n n e c t i o n between F l i n t and F u n e r a l Games; t h i s i s q u i t e a c c u r a t e , b u t t h e p l a y i s Ortonesque i n more g e n e r a l ways as w e l l . 3  4  D a v i d M e r c e r , • F 1 i n t (London:  Methuen & Co. L t d . ) , p. 9.  122  5  I b i d , p. 58.  5 K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama, p. 40. 7  John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 169.  8  I b i d . , p. 170.  H i n c h c l i f f e , B r i t i s h T h e a t r e , p. 141. John R u s s e l l T a y l o r a g r e e s w i t h t h i s term, b u t p o i n t s o u t t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l s h o u l d n o t be used i n a p e j o r a t i v e sense. 9  10 John R u s s e l l T a y l o r , The Second Wave, p. 101 H Tom S t o p p a r d , A f t e r M a g r i t t e (London: pp. 26-7,  F a b e r and F a b e r , 1971),  12 L o o t , p. 52. 13 Tom S t o p p a r d , Jumpers (London:  Faber and F a b e r , 1972), p. 44.  1 4  I b i d . , p. 58.  1 5  H i n c h c l i f f e , B r i t i s h T h e a t r e , p. 169.  1 6  Ibid.  1^ P e t e r B a r n e s , The R u l i n g C l a s s (London:  Heinemann, 1969), p. 88.  K a t h a r i n e Worth, R e v o l u t i o n s i n Modern E n g l i s h Drama, p. 156. 1  9  P e t e r B a r n e s , The R u l i n g C l a s s , p. 9.  20 R o n a l d B r y d e n , I n t r o d u c t i o n t o The B e w i t c h e d by P e t e r Barnes (London: Heinemann, 1974), p. v i i i .  BIBLIOGRAPHY  A r t a u d , A n t o n i n . 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