The Complete Plays
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The Complete Plays

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  558 ratings  ·  35 reviews
This volume contains every play written by Joe Orton, who emerged in the 1960s as the most talented comic playwright in recent English history and was considered the direct successor to Wilde, Shaw, and Coward.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1965)
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Oct 05, 2007 Tosh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Morrissey and wit
Joe Orton has 'it' in spades. A fantastic writer who wrote amazing and super witty plays. Oscar Wilde died and somehow he ended up in the body and brains of a Mr. Joe Orton. How did that happen?
Chuck O'Connor
This is a re-read for me, and to be transparent, a favorite. Orton was masterful at satirizing the pious and powerful, and the fact that his work can still make relevant social commentary more than 40 years after its creation, speaks to the man's talent (and sadly our inability to transcend our hypocrisies). When I first encountered Orton at 21 I was tickled by his irreverence, but now 21 years later I am humbled by his craft. The 7 plays in this collection represent his entire portfolio because...more

Reading this ‘Complete Plays’ of Joe Orton was a roller-coaster ride, in that it suddenly went from very high to very very low. Starting with 'The Ruffian on the Stair', in which a strange man inexplicably enters to the flat of a housewife and threatens to kill her, to the brilliant 'Entertaining Mr. Sloane', I was transfixed; and couldn’t wait to read more and more and more and- then the anti-climax of the other plays. 'The Good and Faithful Servant' was ok, but 'Loot' painful and by god it too...more
Orton's plays are filled with such an exuberant joy and excitement that it almost makes up for the fact that most of his plays are essentially the same. On their own, his plays are quite good, but his voice is so strong that once you understand where he is coming from they are pretty predictable. But they are always a joy and full of life.

For me the play that stands out the most is Entertaining Mr Sloane. While it fits in with his other pieces, it stands out both because of its structure, its ca...more
John E. Branch Jr.
What the Butler Saw: absolutely brilliant. Undermines conventional values at every step, yet makes a nod to tradition (theatrical tradition, at least) in reaching the conclusion. In 2013 I read it as part of a search for inspiration, and/or ideas to steal, in connection with a play project. Maybe not a smart choice for a model, as work on this level is inimitable, but shouldn't one's ideals be ideal?

The introduction, by John Lahr, gives a valuable summary of Orton's life and work, as one would e...more
Joe Orton redefined English theater in a way that is almost impossible to describe except to say that anyone who has ever laughed at Monty Python sketch owes him a pint. Violent, insane, brilliantly funny, this collection of plays displays the virtuosic wit and biting social satire that defined Orton's short career. If there is ultimately a lack of compassion for humanity it may be what we would have ultimately seen in Orton's later plays if he had lived to write them. In the end, it is this lac...more
♆ BookAddict ~ La Crimson Femme
When I was 15 years old, I was a bit precocious. One of the guys I met, 5 years old (so much older!) recommended Joe Orton. He figured I was too young to really get it. What he didn't realize was that my English education at a public school was at a higher level than many entrance college English courses.

I not only understood this but I enjoyed it. It was deviant and not something my parents would have approved. I did use it in my English class in Junior year. It didn't go so well. The teachers...more
Read this for a graduate course. Dark and hilarious plays written in the 1960s that hold up through time.
High five! Funny, dark, rude, insightful, clever, uncomfortable-making. Just so well written, one after another after another. Amazing that in the space of three/four years he wrote all of these, and the next thing he was redrum-ed. Reading the notes made me like him even more. What The Butler Saw and Funeral Games were a bit too farcical for my liking, but I'm not de-starring it for that. I think I'd just read too many plays in one go, and I did enjoy the references to psychoanalysis in WTBS. T...more
I have read all these plays and even have the distinction of having directed his play Funeral Games. It was the first production of this play done in the United States. He was a well liked English playwright who made the statement that rather than grow old he would rather be remembered as a good looking corpse. he shouldnt have said that as he was murdered by his lover at a very early age.He wrote comedies mostly on the dark side and to this day they are still being done all over the world.
Mar 23, 2008 Josh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like comedies
Recommended to Josh by: Karin Magaldi
I've had this crazy idea that I should read an author's complete works in the chronological order in which they wrote them to better understand them. This book shows me quite clearly that this isn't a good policy, since Joe Orton's early plays were BORING, and his last two, Loot and What the Butler Saw were fucking amazing!

Point of the story is, there's often a reason an authors lesser known works are lesser known.
Reminded me of certain actors, who always seem to be portraying themselves, but are kind of a joy to watch regardless. Orton had a very specific voice, and didn't vary it much, though I have to wonder if that's because his career and his life were cut so short. In any case, while the plays can feel repetitious, he's also just a pleasure to listen to.
Hard-boiled camp that's what Orton is dishing up here. Disturbing, disorientating, and downright drole. Let Mr Orton take you in hand and pull you off ... into his dark places. Strange young gentlemen with dubious pasts, misplaced cadavers, double entendres, retirement clocks, statemen's cocks ...
Feb 02, 2009 Ben is currently reading it
Started slow, I wasn't all that certain why such a fuss had been made over Orton's black comedies, but it has been steadily gaining steam ever since. I am on Loot right now, which must be his best known and most accessible work. It is very funny, reminiscent of Dario Fo, to a degree.
This man's understanding of comedy is like a bat's. Or rather as sonar is to bat so is comedy to Joe Orton. He was murdered of course, but not by me. I don't feel the same way about Joe Orton as I do about Samuel Beckett. And besides, I wasn't even alive then.
Cody Gillespie-Lynch
Each of the plays have their moments, but only What The Butler Saw struck me as being a total success. Of course, being plays, they are meant to be seen, not just read, so it's possible that the other plays perform better than they read.
Disha Acharya
Joe Orton was such a gifted playwright. His satire is scathing and hilarious at the same time. I was laughing all through the plays. A must read. A note for the prude- Don't read unless prepared to handle Ortanesque comedy.
I've only seen Loot and Sloane performed, and they remain my favourites. Great fun to read. I struggled with What the Butler Saw because ... I don't like any of the characters. Perhaps it works better in performance?
Read this collection for the first time or re read it again, dear! It IS as fantastic as you remember! Farce at it's best. Intelligent writing that appeals to your "off" side. This man is a genius.
Joe Orton, where have you been all my life? Have only read "Loot" and "What the Butler Saw" but I am deeply in love with Orton's dark comedies!
“That's typical of your upbringing, baby. Every luxury was lavished on you--atheism, breast-feeding, circumcision. I had to make my own way.”
Its hard now to see what all the fuss was about at the time. Uneven and some of the cultural references were lost on me.
Jonathan Hutchins
Not read them all; best known for me is 'Loot', in which I played Hal back in about 1983
Mark Allen
Over then “What the Butler Saw” which is hilarious, the rest are fairly uneven.
I read this but I have zero memory of its contents or my reaction to said contents.
Feb 19, 2009 nathan added it
"We may get necrophilia too. As a sort of bonus."

--What the Butler Saw
Amazing! Huge fan of Orton and have read this many, many times.
Read Loot in college and fell in love with this genius.
Nobody stirs a comic, deadly cafe
noir like Joe Orton.
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John Kingsley ("Joe") Orton was an English playwright. In a short but prolific career lasting from 1964 until his death, he shocked, outraged and amused audiences with his scandalous black comedies. The adjective Ortonesque is now used to refer to something characterised by a dark but farcical cynicism.

Orton began to write plays in the early 1960s. He wrote his only novel, posthumously published a...more
More about Joe Orton...
The Orton Diaries What the Butler Saw Loot Entertaining Mr. Sloane Head to Toe

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