Liverpool Playhouse poster for
Erpingham Camp musical production 1982



After the failure of Loot Orton and Halliwell spent some time in Tangiers, where Orton came to terms with Loot’s initial failure.

On his return from Tangiers Orton spent much of 1965 writing The Erpingham Camp, a TV play for Rediffusion about revolution in a Butlins type holiday camp. Erpingham had originally started out as a film treatment for director Lindsay Anderson, who rejected it on the grounds of its ‘high camp’. Loosely based on Euripides The Bacchae, this was Orton’s most political play, an attack on organised religion and other institutions that seek to control and repress individuality and spontaneity.

Entertaining Mr Sloane had been taken up on Broadway in New York and Orton went through a tortuous procedure to obtain a visa to attend rehearsals. Orton’s criminal record counted against him and his visa was initially refused. This was exactly the sort of petty bureaucracy that Orton despised and at Ramsey’s insistence he wrote the episode up as The Visa Affair but this was never published.

In September, Orton travelled to New York for the Broadway production of Sloane. During previews, word of mouth spread and at the end of the two weeks it was playing to a full house. Orton’s letters to Halliwell record his excitement at the production

‘Think of me on Tuesday night and, even more about two o’clock Wednesday morning. Such a pity if the critics do damn it. It really is good.’

It was, however, slated by critics and closed after 13 performances. Orton returned deflated and Ramsey felt the failure of Sloane on Broadway had also put paid to any hopes of reviving Loot as a viable production.

Image: Courtesy The Orton Estate   Text © Leicester City Council / Orton Quotes: © The Orton Estate  

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