The Ruffian On the Stair is a play by British playwright Joe Orton which was first broadcast on BBC Radio in August 1964. It is an unsympathetic yet comedic one-act portrayal of working class England, as played out by a couple and a mysterious young man who toys with their lives. It was based on The Boy Hairdresser, a novel by Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell. The title and play are based on a few lines from poet and dramatist William Ernest Henley: “Madam Life’s a piece in bloom, / Death goes dogging everywhere: / She’s the tenant of the room, / He’s the ruffian on the stair.” Ruffian is not as renowned as other works such as Loot and What the Butler Saw, but it is still staged on occasion.
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