A Last Hurrah? Joe Orton's 'Until She Screams,' Oh! Calcutta! and the Permisive 1960s

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In February 1967 Joe Orton submitted a sketch to Kenneth Tynan’s erotic review Oh! Calcutta! Originally written in 1960 as The Patient Dowager and retitled Until She Screams, Orton would not live to see it performed in his lifetime, and it would not be until the show’s London opening in July 1970 that audiences would get a chance to see this last ‘new’ work by Joe Orton.
Overlooked in existing studies on Orton, this article reassesses Screams, not only in terms of it being a precursor to some of the themes and ideas in Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964) and Loot (1966), but as an indicator for what a second redraft of Orton’s final full-length play What the Butler Saw (1969) might have resembled, together with the style and tone of the next play he was planning, a historical farce provisionally entitled Prick up Your Ears. The article also assesses the extent to which Orton’s sketch accommodated Tynan’s aims for Oh! Calcutta! as being a celebration of sexual liberation at the end of the 1960s, and how far it subverted myths about the permissive society of the late 1960s that Orton did not live to see.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-236
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Issue number2
Early online date10 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2017


  • Oh! Calcutta!
  • Joe Orton
  • Kenneth Tynan
  • censorship
  • permissive


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