December 1966 Orton was hard at work writing what was
to be his final and most accomplished play.
‘Hard at work on What the Butler Saw
all day. I wrote a scene were Geraldine disguises herself
as a an Indian nurse. Cut it though after laughing a lot
... whenever anything makes me roar with laughter it’s
a sure sign it must be cut.’ 28th December 1966.
At Ramsey’s suggestion Orton was now keeping a diary
with an eye to publishing after his death. Six days after
staring his diary Orton received a call from his brother-in-law
George telling him his mother had died, an event that
only took up four lines in his diary.
Orton came to Leicester for the funeral and on his return
to London brought his mother’s false teeth back
with him and presented them to the cast of Loot.
‘I said to Kenneth Cranham, ‘Here
I thought you’d like the originals.’ He said
‘What?’ ‘Teeth’ I said, ‘It’s
obvious that you are not thinking of the events of the
play in terms of reality, if a thing affects you like
that.’ Simon Ward shook like a jelly when I gave
them to him.’ 4th January 1967.
A set of false teeth feature in a prominent scene in Loot
when they are removed form the corpse of Hal’s mother
and he plays them like a pair of castanets. Orton had
just given them their own real life Ortonesque moment.
Orton and Halliwell went on their third and final trip
to Tangiers from May to June on their return and Orton
continued working on What the Butler Saw. Throughout his
career Orton had always emphasised Halliwell's contribution
to his work, if not actually acknowledging him in print,
and What the Butler Saw was no exception.
‘I’ve finished typing What the
Butler Saw. Yesterday Kenneth read the script and was
enthusiastic – he made several important suggestions
which I’m carrying out’. Orton Diary 11th
By the end of July, Orton was in discussion with Oscar
Lewenstein about the first production of What the Butler
Saw, but Orton was never to see the play performed.