Writer brings tale of tragic relationship to the Lichfield stage

Especially The Latter Part

Especially The Latter Part

The creator of a new show at the Lichfield Garrick has been explaining why he has revisited the murder of a playwright by his lover in 1967.

As well as being the writer of Especially The Latter Part, Richard Ely also stars in the solo performance on September 19. 

Kenneth Halliwell killed Joe Orton with a hammer before committing suicide more than 40 years ago.

But Richard, who trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and has appeared at the Nottingham Playhouse, Manchester Contact Theatre, as well as on televisoin and radio, was motivated to create the piece by a long-standing interest in the lives of Orton and Halliwell.

He explained:

“They died when I was exactly five days’ old, so we shared the same timeframe for a very short while. Most people seem to know who Joe Orton was, but comparatively few know much about Halliwell – beyond the fact that he was Joe’s lover and his killer.  Especially The Latter Part attemtps to get inside Haliwell’s head – and to see the events of his last few months through his own eyes.

“Reaching this level of empathy with Kenneth has been fascinating, if harrowing – he really was someone for whom virtually nothing went right.  Given this, I think his anger with the world is understandable – though I hope I’ve taken care not to create an over-sympathetic portrait.  He was a talented man, albeit a flawed one – and I’ve tried to give some illustration of his talents, as well as covering his flaws. 

“There’s also a mystery surrounding the events of that final humid August night. Orton kept a diary, in which the events of his life – including his increasingly fraught relationship with Halliwell – were meticulously recorded. Yet the diary entries for the final week of his life are missing and no one seems to know how or why they vanished.  So, we can’t know for certain if there was a single ‘flashpoint’ event that led to what happened.  In the piece, I’ve hypothesised what might have happened, based on what we do know, but it’s entirely my conjecture, although based on fact.”

Richard is hoping that the piece will appeal to Orton fans, 60s enthusiasts and admirers of post-war theatre generally

He told The Lichfield Blog:

“‘Joe Orton is one of post-war Britain’s most important playwrights; he’s also one of the major cultural figures to have emerged from the Midlands in the 20th century. He also led a fascinating life; and an understanding of Kenneth Halliwell is crucial to an understanding of that life.”

Tickets for the show on September 19 are priced at £12 and £10 concessions. The show is not suitable for under-16s however.

To book, call the box office on 01543 412121 or visit the Lichfield Garrick website.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.