the initial failure of Loot, Ramsey rashly promised a
London production within six months. Hope appeared in
the figure of Oscar Lewenstein who bought the options
on Loot in January 1966.
In April a revised version of the play was staged in Manchester.
Orton had cut 651 lines and made Truscott the central
character throughout the play, making him a more sinister
and violent figure, drawing on his experiences when arrested.
more about this production here)
The revised version was a rousing success, with the Daily
Telegraph pronouncing it ‘very funny’.
Orton left on his second trip to Morocco the next day
but his good mood quickly dissipated. Ramsey could still
not drum up interest in a London production. On June 18th
Orton wrote to Ramsey from Tangiers:
‘.. if the Loot option runs out in January
with no sign of the play being put on … I shall
throw the play on the fire. And I shan’t write a
third stage play. I shall earn my living on TV.’
Orton relented on his return and Lewenstein arranged for
Loot to open on 27th September at the Jeanetta Cochrane
Theatre, an ‘off West End’ theatre. Both Ramsey
and Orton were sceptical about the production and thought
the direction forced and the sets dull. To their surprise
the critics loved the play. The Sunday Telegraph wrote: ‘the most genuinely quick witted, pungent and sprightly
entertainment by a new young British playwright for a
Orton’s quick witted and sparkling dialogue had
won the critics over and overcome the weaknesses of the
production, as he was quick to point out in an interview
with the Evening Standard.
‘I have many vices, but false modesty
is not one of them. The best thing about Loot is the quality
of the writing.’
Loot transferred to the Criterion Theatre in West End
proper on November 1st but struggled to get an audience.
This was to turn around when Loot was awarded the London
Evening Standard award for Best Play of 1966 on January