Inadmissible Evidence

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A: John Osborne Pf: 1964, London Pb: 1965 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Solicitor's office, London, 1960s C: 3m, 5fIn a dream sequence, 39-year-old Bill Maitland, practising as a solicitor for 25 years, finds himself on trial for having depended ‘almost entirely on other people's efforts’. The dream dissolves: the Judge is revealed as Hudson, the Managing Clerk, who now works for Bill. Bill arrives in his office, deals offensively with his secretary Shirley, who gives her notice, and patronizingly with the amiable Hudson. Instead of working, Bill is more interested in discussing his many affairs, particularly his present liaison with Liz, which is not going well. In a series of telephone calls, which may or not be part of his dream, Bill tries to calm Liz, and then his wife Anna, after she walked in on him about to have sex with his secretary Joy. When clients come with divorce petitions, Bill behaves as though he were called on to defend his own behaviour. His daughter comes, and Bill condemns himself in a long monologue addressed to her. Finally, he is abandoned by Hudson and even Joy, and eventually by Liz. Bill phones his wife, but decides that he will just sit and wait for the inevitable reckoning.

A: John Osborne Pf: 1964, London Pb: 1965 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Solicitor's office, London, 1960s C: 3m, 5f

The contraceptive pill and a general relaxation of public morality in the post-war period created a sexual freedom explored by many playwrights. Here, as in Alfie, a severe moral tone is adopted, and it is clear that Bill's philandering and cavalier attitude to the law will be paid for by guilt, recrimination, and loneliness. In terms of presentation, Osborne moved away from his early naturalism to a style where dream and reality intermingle, and different characters appear identical.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) — Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).

Reference entries

John Osborne (1929—1994) playwright and autobiographer

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