Once-censored dialogue is to be reinstated for the 50th anniversary production of Joe Orton’s darkly comic masterpiece, Loot, at the Park Theatre.
Originally judged too scandalous or morally dubious for the play’s West End premiere in 1967 by the official censor, Lord Chamberlain, additional material penned by Orton will be heard for the very first time on stage in the UK. Themes considered taboo included allusions to homosexuality, artificial insemination and bad language, with criticisms of the Church and the Crown also removed from the original production, despite Orton’s written appeals.
With stage censorship since abolished by the Theatres Act 1968, the Joe Orton Estate, administered by the late playwright’s sister Leonie, has agreed the original script can be used for the show’s anniversary.
Director Michael Fentiman, who discovered the earlier script in the archives of Leicester University in the playwright’s home city, said: “50 years on from the death of Joe Orton, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the fall of censorship in the British theatre – it has been a great honour to discover what a scandal Joe was causing in those pivotal moments towards the end of the 1960’s.”
“It’s a real pleasure being allowed the opportunity to include passages in our production that caused such shock and outrage is 1966 that they were unable to be heard in Joe’s lifetime – and in doing so release a little more of the daring spirit of Joe Orton in the air.”
When it premiered five decades ago, Loot shocked and delighted audiences in equal measure, scooping the Best Play of the Year Award in the 1967 Evening Standard Awards, and being named one of the National Theatre’s “100 Plays of the Century”.
From the same producers as the recent sell-out hit The Boys In The Band, this revival of Loot will play at the Park Theatre from 17 August – 24 September 2017, and sees two young friends desperately attempting to stash the spoils of a bank robbery away – in an occupied coffin.
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