Cinema: Wicked Original

Farce is tragedy out for a good time. Its characters miss disaster by a pulsebeat (What if the husband had peeked behind the door? What if the policeman had knocked a minute earlier?). Its situations are improbabilities made tantalizingly possible.

Like many ancient crafts, pure farce disappeared long ago; it was replaced by the machine-tooled "sitcom" or by crude, graffiti-black comedy. But British Playwright Joe Orton was not a man to ride a trend. In the '60s he wrote a cycle of extravagant farces, most of them failures on and off Broadway. Orton would...

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