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Joe Orton: The Complete Plays Hardcover – 1976

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Book Club Edition. edition (1976)
  • ASIN: B001P5SKTC
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,126,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Tragic, brutal things happen to the characters in these plays. But none of these people is particularly likeable, so you can't really care. It's all just as well for them, in some ways, and it's all in good fun. The characters manipulate each other, lie to each other, steal from each other, screw each other, kill each other, and deny that they do it. Everyone here has the ethics of a doorknob, and it's all pretty enjoyable.
The last one, "What The Butler Saw", got a little bit too ridiculously farcical for my taste and went on too long, but it has its moments; and otherwise they're all pretty good to read.
I can also recommend the introduction. Joe Orton lived his own life very much like the people in his plays (which makes you wonder how much of his material was supposed to be comedy). Even his death was true to form: his envious lover, actor Kenneth Halliwell, bashed in Orton's brains with a hammer just prior to doing himself in with 22 sleeping tablets.
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Format: Paperback
Although he is considered among England's greatest playwrights, today Joe Orton (1933-1967) is better known for the way in which he died--his head beaten in with a hammer by his long-time lover Kenneth Halliwell--than for his works. It is a bitter and ridiculous irony that might have been lifted from one of his own plays. It is also a great pity, for Orton was a comic genius whose plays equal the best of English with from Congreve to Wilde to Coward. And if you like your comedy with an ample edge of mean-spiritedness, brutality, cruelty, and flat-out viciousness, Orton is the man for you.

THE COMPLETE PLAYS is not as complete as the title implies, for the text leaves out several titles that never received any production during Orton's lifetime. Still, it does collect the major titles, and that in itself is enough to earn it a place on any serious play-reader's shelf.

Originally presented as a BBC radio program, THE RUFFIAN ON THE STAIR presents the story of Joyce, an unmarried woman of dubious background who is now under the control of Mike, an older man who has mysterious assignations that lead to a fateful encounter with a boy hairdresser named Wilson--whose lover (or brother, depending on how you think about it) may have been a victim of one of Mike's covert operations. It got Orton noticed, and his next effort would truly put him on the map: ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE was and is one of the salaciously funny comedies ever brought to the stage, the wickedly funny tale of an aging sex-crazed woman and her homosexual brother who use their father's murder as a means of blackmailing a young thug into their respective beds.
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Format: Paperback
Joe Orton is one of the two key British playwrights who initiated (and carried out practically singlehandedly) the transition from the "drawing room" drama of the first half of the 20th century and before, which celebrated "English Exceptionalism", into the gritty world of social realism, creating Britain's brief flirtation with social criticism, before the Pinteresque descent into the absurd. The other crusader was John Osborne. Neither wrote particularly attractive or amusing drama; they were too busy deconstructing the Myth of Empire and the White Man's Burden. Shockingly, Orton was killed with a hammer by his lover. Given the ferocity of his work, it was a macabre but somehow fitting end for a brilliant but very troubled writer.
Unfortunately, the work of these two critics of the British establishment was poorly received in its time, and quickly forgotten afterward, and England was spared any further dramatic assaults on its sensibilities.
The language is violent, the conception violent, the plays almost offensive, as indeed they were meant to be. Orton and Osborne were the dramatic equivalent of Electro-Shock Treatment for the dying Empire. Nevertheless, this book is as well worth reading as George Orwell's 1984 or Animal Farm.
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By A Customer on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
This collection of (the late) Joe Orton's plays is amazing. Not for those who are easily offended or whose feelings are hurt. Orton, who was described as a "poor Oscar Wilde," lived up to the name. His plays are fast paced assults on everything that the British hold dear. There is no respect for religion, custom, death or social norms.
Satirical and full of quick wit, Orton's plays attack British culture and spit on everything that the "respectable person," would hold dear.
Orton does not hold back anything and could come on a bit strong for a conservative reader, but my suggestion is that any lover of drama and theater should own and read these plays.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The last play of the collection, "What the Butler Saw," is one of the funniest comedies I have seen or read. Hint: There is no butler, but lots of interchangeable doctors, madmen, police, wives, secretaries, rapists, and long-lost relatives. You'll like it1
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Format: Hardcover
This Volume contains every play that Joe Orton-now a key figure in modern British drama-wrote before his violent death in 1967 at the age of 34. It includes four shorter plays ("The Ruffian on the Stair", "The Good and Faithful Servant", "The Erpingham Camp" and "Funeral Games") and the three plays for which Orton is chiefly known here: "Loot", "What the butler Saw" and "Entertaining Mr. Sloane."

I bought the book for the play "What the Butler Saw" which style remedies me of "The Importance of Being Ernest" by Oscar Wilde. The other plays are an added plus.

Read the book then see if you local theater is aware of the plays.
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