like to know where I stand in relation to the number of
limbs a man has”.
Written in 1964, The Good and Faithful Servant was first
produced by Rediffusion Television in April 1967.
The play’s central figure, Buchanan, a commissionaire,
is retiring after giving a lifetime and an amputated limb
in loyal service. Realising that his life and legacy amount
to nothing, Buchanan registers his disenchantment by destroying
his retirement gifts with a hammer.
Contemplating a wasted life, Buchanan dies in bed shortly
after his retirement as sunlight streams through the window
and his new wife, Edith, idly chats about the forthcoming
holiday season and the ‘get together’ at the
Edith: I’m buying a new dress for the
occasion. And I shall smile a lot, more than usual, because
we have so much to be thankful for.
A poignant and bitter one-act play, Orton concentrates
his irony on the slavish belief in industrial routine
and the threat of anonymity and failure.