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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lights of Bohemia to Love in Livery

a play by Joe Orton, first performed in 1965. It takes what its author called ‘a farcical view of things normally treated as tragic’, prime among them death and bereavement. Mrs McLeavy's coffin is used by her son Hal and his lover Dennis to hide the money they have stolen from the local bank. The body itself is planted upside down in a cupboard, then taken out, stripped, and disguised as a sewing dummy, in an effort to outwit the detective on the case, Truscott. A traffic accident on the way to the funeral brings the loot back to the house, where it is transferred to the casket that held Mrs McLeavy's viscera, which have exploded. Truscott discovers it there, only to agree to divide it with Hal, Dennis, and Fay, the mass-murdering nurse whose latest victim turns out to have been Mrs McLeavy. The only conventional character in the piece, the widower McLeavy, is dispatched to jail, where he too will be quietly killed. The play is notable for its witty and often scurrilous exposure of the greed and callousness that Orton thought was concealed by moral and religious pretension.

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