British playwright Joe Orton, who rose from a working class background and a stint in prison to a short but prolific life as one of Britain's most outstanding playwrights, never lived to see a production of his brilliant farce What the Butler Saw. Orton, who was murdered by his lover nearly two years before its debut, wrote the play partly in response to Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, combining the drawing room elements of Wilde's play with Orton's darker, more outrageous perspective.
Dark comedies -- especially those that lampoon social and sexual mores - often lose their edge and humor over time. But Orton's work continues to dazzle, especially in the hands of director John Tillinger and a talented cast at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. From government bureaucracy to the ...
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