Actors Delena Kidd and Alan Rickman, and former theatre critic Michael Ratcliffe, join Richard Digby Day to celebrate the life and career of the much-loved .
Farce and fatality in Loot – the birth of Joe Orton's blackest comedy ...
We look back at Loot's production history and Orton's often fraught relationships with his forthright agent, jealous lover and dismayed cast.
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The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Read aloud by Geraldine McEwan)
This is a read-along edition with audio synced to the text, performed by Geraldine McEwan. The classic story about everyone’s favourite family cat, Mog!
This is a read-along edition with audio synced to the text, performed by Geraldine McEwan. This classic story of Sophie and her extraordinary tea-time guest has been loved by millions of children since it was first published over 30 years ago.
It was not just that Joe Orton died at 34, but the manner of it – his gruesome murder at the hands of his lover, Kenneth Halliwell – that firmly established him in the public consciousness. Orton’s career, which faltered while he was alive, took off after his untimely death in 1967. Scandal and notoriety are catnip at the box office. In his lifetime, he was championed by celebrated writers’ agent Peggy Ramsay. When they met in 1964 she was at the height of her influence and found herself intoxicated by the playwright’s originality, raw talent and his openness about being gay. Having cut his teeth with a radio play – The Ruffian on the Stair – Orton found his voice with his first stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964), about a middle-aged brother and sister competing for the sexual favours of their androgynous young... Though heavily influenced by Pinter, who was already feted by this time, Mr Sloane was sufficiently distinctive to garner favourable reviews. Harold Hobson in the Sunday Times compared its juxtaposition of extravagant language and Gothic content to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, while Ronald Bryden in the Observer called Orton “the Oscar Wilde of welfare state gentility”. He wrote Loot, currently being revived at the Park Theatre in North London, a year later. If Mr Sloane was a black comedy with farcical overtones, Loot was an out-and-out farce, albeit one conceived by a social anarchist with multiple axes to grind – as Michael Billington put it, “Feydeau with fangs”. Orton made it clear to his producer Michael Codron that the primary aim of Loot was not to make the audience laugh. “Ideally it should be nearer The Homecoming than I Love Lucy,” he wrote, making no secret of his admiration for Pinter’s 1964 play. Unlike The Homecoming, Loot boasts a properly constructed plot. Two young felons, Hal and Dennis, rob a bank next door to the funeral parlour where Dennis works. They try to hide the ill-gotten gains in the coffin meant for Hal’s mother, which means they have to find a place to hide the corpse. The mayhem is underpinned by Orton’s robust condemnation of the police force, the Catholic church and middle-class morality. The star turn in Loot is Inspector Truscott, the borderline psychotic policeman investigating the crime. Over the years, Truscott has been played by David Haig, Michael Bates, George Rose, Leonard Rossiter and David Troughton, among others. The role was written for Orton’s friend Kenneth Williams, who was already a star in the mid-1960s, and Williams played the role, with disastrous consequences when the play was first produced for a pre-London tour. The tour opened in Cambridge to poor notices from the local press: reviews criticised it for being “shapeless” and “boring”. Orton attempted to rewrite whole chunks of the play to the dismay of the cast, which included Geraldine McEwan and Ian McShane. Ramsay despaired of the production ever opening in London. “If you dislike Loot, perhaps it is the essential me as a writer you dislike,” Orton wrote to Ramsay. Wimbledon was the last booking before the opening in central London. Codron, by now sick with apprehension, announced that he could not find a West End theatre to take the show. Although Orton and Ramsay did not part company – Ramsay promised Orton she would restage the play later that year – the initial production of Loot had run its course. When interviewed in the 1980s, Kenneth Williams was the first to admit that the whole production had been misconceived and that he was hopelessly miscast as Truscott. Amazingly, his friendship with Orton and Halliwell survived the experience, at least until Orton’s death two years later. “Halliwell couldn’t cope with Joe’s artistic temperament and his need to be promiscuous,” Williams said. Kenneth Cranham, who was in the second, successful production of Loot at the Royal Court later in 1965, remembers Halliwell as “an absurd figure in a terrible wig”, who bitterly disliked living in Orton’s shadow. Loot was still running, having transferred to the West End, when Orton was murdered. Cranham recalled how difficult it was to carry on. “So many lines in the play took on a different resonance,” he said.
Mrs. Geraldine's Ground Beef Casserole (pasta, green pepper, brown sugar, celery, cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, mushroom, onions, salt, cheddar cheese, tomato sauce, tomato, worcestershire sauce)
Upside-Down Peach Muffins (baking powder, brown sugar, butter, eggs, flour, milk, peach, salt, shortening, sugar)
Crunchy Peanut Butter Bars (brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, peanut butter, cornflakes, eggs, flour, salt, semisweet chocolate chips, shortening, vanilla extract)
Cornish Hens with Rice Dressing (celery, chicken broth, marjoram, rice, onions, black pepper, salt, vegetable oil)
Geraldine McEwan - IMDb
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Geraldine McEwan Biography
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