Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Joe Orton’s identity as a gay working-class playwright is reflected in his work, Loot. The story is of a sum of money that is stolen from a bank by Dennis and Hal. Dennis and Hal must protect their treasure from Fay, a serial-killer who marries men and then takes their money after killing them. They must also watch out for Inspector Truscott who with some payment assists Hal and Dennis in avoiding arrest. Throughout the play, Orton questions what it means to be a criminal. Hal and Dennis are humanized while characters like the police inspector are brought into question. There is no clear line of good and bad. In this dark story, everyone is a criminal. This aligns with Orton, who has his own history with the label criminal. Orton was sentenced to six months in prison for defacing a library book. However, he interpreted this as punishment for his homosexuality. Like Orton, his characters come to question what it means to be a criminal and what constitutes crime. In many ways, Loot is an early critique of the police force and its biased practices. While the police force claims to be nobel, Inspector Truscott is a fake. Similarly, Fay claims to be a “nice person” however, she turns out to be a serial killer. Her character defies all norms and facades that society is faced with. As a woman, it is assumed that she is a dutiful wife and caretaker. Even more so, Fay is a nurse. This compels the reader to think of her as someone who solves problems rather than start them. Yet, Fay is a cold-blooded murderer. She defies each of the assumptions made about her.