The Ruffian On The Stair - Hope Theatre

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Comedy - London Fringe - Shows

The Hope Theatre's 8th in-house production gives another airing to an early work of playwright Joe Orton - due next year from 29 January.
The Ruffian On The Stair at Hope Theatre

Image: Hope Theatre

British playwright Joe Orton (1933-1967) had an unusual life in many respects.

When he shot to fame with his play Entertaining Mr Sloane in 1964, he outraged and shocked audiences in more or less equal measure.

The play Loot (originally called Funeral Games) followed and also eventually found success, though it initially met with difficulties in production.

But Orton's success was to be short-lived and his potential as a playwright never to be fully realised.

In August 1967, Orton was battered to death with a hammer by his lover Kenneth Halliwell.

You can read more about Orton's unusual life story here.

For many years, Halliwell and Orton lived in almost total obscurity in a small bedsit at 25 Noel Road, Islington.

It's fitting, then, that Orton's play The Ruffian On The Stair is being revived at Islington's Hope Theatre in January next year.

Ruffian was first aired in 1964, only 3 years before Orton met his death, broadcast by the BBC as a radio play.

Brimful of Orton's trademark coruscating wit, violence, sexuality and death are never far from the surface in The Ruffian On The Stair.

The 8th in-house production from The Hope Theatre's award winning team, it follows their previous, award nominated shows The Lesson and Brimstone & Treacle and Offie award winning Lovesong Of The Electric Bear.

Ruffian will be directed by Paul Clayton whose directing credits include York Theatre Royal, The Watermill, Newbury and Nottingham Playhouse.

As an actor Paul has appeared in a multitude of TV dramas and comedies including Him & Her and Peep Show, various West End stage appearances and, most recently, Brimstone & Treacle at The Hope.

He became Patron of The Hope Theatre in 2017.


A darkly comic tale of love, sex for sale, catholicism, homosexuality, power, lies, loneliness and goldfish.

"The heart is situated just below this badge on my pullover. Don't miss, will you?"

When a young man says he's looking for a room, he has so much more on his mind.

For Joyce, an ex prostitute, hiding away from the world, does he bring release, or a different kind of ending?

Left alone by her protector Mike, she has to deal with the intrusion on her own terms with unexpected results.

Placing his characters in a world of mystery, Orton taints their lives with the ordinary and the mundane, giving them a language that is entirely unique, he peels back the skin to outrage, shock, and amuse with a dark and farcical cynicism.

This classic comedy of menace tells of shady meetings and a desire for revenge.


Author: Joe Orton
Director: Paul Clayton


Hope Theatre
207 Upper Street
N1 1RL


From: Tuesday 29 January 2019

Closes: Saturday 16 February 2019


Standard: £15

Concessions: £12

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