If ever roles were reversed, it was in the relationship of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton. Their homosexual partnership began when they met as drama students. Halliwell was 25, eight years older than Orton, with an expensive education behind him and with a car and his own flat. He became the provincial boy’s mentor, nurturing his literary tastes and showing him the way around.
And Orton proved to be a brilliant pupil too brilliant for Halliwell’s liking, for the lad from Leicester soon overtook his partner and left him far behind. He wrote black comedies which became West End hits. He also became flamboyant and promiscuous, and Halliwell found himself reduced to the role of a hanger-on in Orton’s new circle of clever, glitzy friends.
“I’m pathetic,” he told Orton. “I can’t go on suffering like this.” And he didn’t. On AUGUST 9th, 1967, he picked up a hammer and smashed in his partner’s head. Then he committed suicide with a drug overdose. It was the final scene in a three-act tragedy. The kind of play Joe Orton might have written.