Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 177
Loot is a two-act play by British writer and playwright Joe Orton. The play features a surreal narrative style that is meant to criticize the middle-class British society of the time (mid-20th century). The thesis of the play is the hypocrisy of society and their institutions and how the masses are duped by these institutions that they blindly follow. Orton and his lover were arrested for defacing books at a library. They modified selected contents of books to depict erotic acts—mostly from a homosexual perspective.
The play's theme is essentially the same political and philosophical manifesto that inspired Orton to commit the vandalism. Loot shows the privileges of those in power and that guilty people get off whilst others in the lower-ranks take the blame. The theme of the play illustrates to the audience that hierarchies of the social structure—whether it's the Roman Catholic Church, the inept police force, or social classes—are dysfunctional, and yet those at the top of these social and political structures are given the power to control the public.