Theater: Laughtime in Bedlam

In his all too brief career, the only grief that British Playwright Joe Orton ever visited on anyone in the theater was his untimely death at the age of 34. Orton gleefully beat sacred cows on their way to the last roundup (Entertaining Mr. Shane; TIME, Oct. 22, 1965). He was a black-comedy farceur who could dance on a coffin and spit in the corpse's eye (Loot; TIME, March 29, 1968). It has been said that "a joke is a scream for help." In Orton's mouth, a joke was an urbane substitute for murder. He was a wild Wilde man.

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