Orton: Obscenities in suburbia
Original, controversial and obscenely witty – just some of the words used to describe British playwright Joe Orton’s work.
Photograph: © Lewis Morley Archive / National Portrait Gallery London.
“The old whore society really lifted up her skirts and the stench was pretty foul”
So strong and singular is Joe Orton’s style that it generated its own word: Ortonesque. Like all great geniuses, he was ahead of his time (as the initial failure of Loot attests), but as the austerity of the 50s gave way to the sexual revolution of the 60s, his work caught the spirit of the age. His writing ruthlessly exposed the hypocrisies of the establishment and delighted in causing offence, but it was always expressed with razor-sharp humour and purpose. Fifty years since Orton’s bizarre murder, we chart his growing mastery of stage and screen as he sets out his overriding themes of sex, death and homoeroticism, combining the best of the British farce tradition with a Wildean wit.
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Supported by the Royal Society of Literature
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