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Orton: Obscenities in suburbia

August 2017

Original, controversial and obscenely witty – just some of the words used to describe British playwright Joe Orton’s work.

Introduction by Marcus Prince, season programmer

Orton: Obscenities in Suburbia

Photograph: © Lewis Morley Archive / National Portrait Gallery London.


“The old whore society really lifted up her skirts and the stench was pretty foul”
Joe Orton

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.


See all screenings of Prick Up Your Ears.

See our Gross Indecency season.

Supported by the Royal Society of Literature
Founded in 1820, the Royal Society of Literature is Britain’s national charity for the advancement of literature. Membership is open to all.

Royal Society of Literature

A Bank Robbery. A Coffin. Very Dubious Morals. Don't miss your chance to see Orton's great black comedy, uncensored for the very first time at the Park Theatre from 17 Aug - 24 Sep.

Royal Society of Literature

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