What Do I Read Next?
Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 283
Loot (1965) and What the Butler Saw (1969) are Orton's most famous plays and works that clearly show his mastery of stage farce.
Not in Front of the Audience: Homosexuality on Stage (1992), by Nicholas de Jongh is a thorough and interesting history of the portrayal of homosexual characters in theatre.
The Orton Diaries, (1986) edited by John Lahr, records the last eight months of Orton's life from December 1966 to August 1967, and includes entries from the diary Orton occasionally kept as an adolescent. Alarmingly explicit in its references to sexuality, these diaries create a portrait of Orton that helps the reader understand the audacious tone and themes of his plays.
The Room (1957) and The Birthday Party (1958) are two plays by fellow British dramatist Harold Pinter that clearly influenced Orton's early work. The Homecoming (1965) is a Pinter play that also involves an "intruder" and sexual sharing.
The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) by Oscar Wilde is a late nineteenth-century comedy of manners that set a brilliant standard for verbal wit that Orton perhaps comes close to matching. In a now widely quoted phrase used in a review of Loot, London theatre critic Ronald Bryden dubbed Orton the "Oscar Wilde of Welfare State gentility."
Not Now Darling (1967) and Run for Your Wife (1983) by Ray Cooney are more conventional, commercial British farces that simply seek to entertain their audiences with fast-moving plots and jokes that resemble television sitcoms. While A Little Hotel on the Side (1894) or A Flea in Her Ear (1907) by the French "Father of Modern Farce," Georges Feydeau, demonstrate how sex can be treated almost antiseptically in farce, Hay Fever (1925) or Private Lives (1930) by Noel Coward show classic British farce that focuses more on witty dialogue than sexual commotion.