Review: The Joe Orton Project
By Marine Hamon, BBC Contributor
Following the Ortonesque exhibition, Leicester gives another tribute to the sulphurous and cynical playwright by hosting at the Phoenix an adaptation of his diaries. Marine brings you her thoughts on the premiere night.
The project is logical. One may think that the best way to know an artist is by getting deep down in his thoughts, by peering into his life, by reading his diary.
This kind of curiosity might be unhealthy and vain in the case of Orton. Despite its strong content and the overuse of expletives, his diaries do reveal interesting things.
The writing of a diary is usually a narcissist enterprise and Orton probably foresaw that his, would be published.
Flaubert said that to see things in a farcical way is the only means not to see them in black.
Let's laugh in order not to weep. Sarcasm and black humour mixed up with sorrow and bitterness are hard to convey in forty five minutes.
That is the good surprise of the play directed by Tom Shkolnik and staged by Jamie Baughan. The performance of the latter is delightful.
It is quite a challenge to interpret Joe Orton but he does it in the most natural and yet relevant way. A talented actor that goes with the way the play is directed.
The stage is very modest. For the scenery, two chairs… that become extremely vivid. Through them, the spectator can imagine the whole Orton's environment: the living room where he either argues with Kenneth or loves him, his mother on her death bed, and the pissoire in Holborn where he happens to have a very surreal encounter.
The play does not pretend to be biographical. Shkolnik picked up some excerpts in order to throw light on the author of LOOT and What the Butler saw.
Leicester-born Joe Orton
The End Without The End
From Clarendon Park to London, the Wilde of his generation would always remember that no matter how famous and successful he is, his position in the English society would remain the same. We shall never forget he was from the gutter.
The one who wrote the funniest lines and the most entertaining plays was to end up tragically.
The eights days before Kenneth, "the middle age non entity", beat him to death, the promised "latter part" of his diaries, is missing.
The play therefore did not reveal what is probably in the hands of the police since 1967.
last updated: 03/12/07
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