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“The sudden appearance, from a void of four decades, of three previously unpublished works by the late British playwright Joe Orton is a cultural event of the first magnitude. . . . The time to redress the record has at last arrived.”David Ehrenstein, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
The Visitors and Fred & Madge
978-0-8021-3628-2 • $13.00 • Paperback • July 1999
As one of Britain’s legendary group of Angry Young Men dramatists, Joe Orton shot to fame on the strength of vicious farces like Loot and What the Butler Saw.
The Visitors and Fred and Madge, two plays written just before Orton achieved success but not discovered until thirty years after his death, offer a glimpse of a key moment into his early development as a dramatist.
Fred and Madge, written in 1959, is an absurdist drama fraught with social critique and sexual innuendo. Fred and Madge, a married couple whose respective jobs are the Sisyphean tasks of rolling boulders uphill and sieving water all day long, finally discover they are inhabiting a play about themselves. Influenced by Pirandello and Ionesco, it reveals Orton’s voice in its experimental infancy.
The Visitors is a brutally realistic rendering of a dying man who is visited in the hospital by his middle-aged daughter, while the attending nurses spend more time fighting than caring for their patients. Written in 1961, it shows the beginnings of the mature voice that would come to fruition in his next projects, The Ruffian on the Stair and Entertaining Mr. Sloane, which made his name in London and around the world.