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Joe Orton meets Harold Pinter at Playreaders

By Henry Vermillion

I think it’s safe to say that the English playwright Joe Orton, in his short life, never met his (better established) fellow play writer Harold Pinter, though it is certain that the younger man learned a good deal from Pinter.

The Ruffian on the Stairs and A slight Ache by Joe Orton and Harold Pinter
Tue-Thu, Jan 21-23, 7:30pm
St. Paul’s Church
Cardo 6
20 pesos

A double bill of two short early plays by Orton and by Harold Pinter will be presented by the San Miguel Playreaders on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Jan 21, 22, and 23, at St Paul’s Church on Calle Cardo.

Joe Orton wrote only seven plays. Entertaining Mr. Sloane is probably his best known. Before his violent death in 1967 at the age of 34, his satiric and hilarious plays had won him grudging acclaim by many critics and at least a share of the theater-going public who were not as shocked and infuriated as were most proper English citizens. He was a true stylist in the line of Oscar Wilde, but even more devastating. The critic John Lahr wrote, “Orton’s laughter is elegant, cruel, shocking, monstrous, hilarious, and smart.” The short play which will be featured by Playreaders is The Ruffian on the Stairs, which was his first produced production. It’s in fact modeled after Pinter, but has Orton’s characteristic surprises.

Harold Pinter needs no introduction to most theatergoers. A Nobel prize laureate, the play paired with Orton will be A Slight Ache. It had a very successful run from 1961 on, at the West End in London. Pinter was a professional actor from the age of 19. His first play was written in 1957, and success followed quickly. He is almost universally considered one of the 20th century’s most important playwrights.

The cast will play various parts in both plays, and features Rick Davey and Marilyn Bullivant of “Literary Cabaret” fame, as well as a couple of surprise guest appearances. Dic Simandl handles lights and sound, and Henry Vermillion directs. Admission is 20 pesos, and curtain is 7:30. Doors open at 7pm, and seating is limited.


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