(from the Telegraph, 11/22.)

Hastings was only 18 in 1956 when Don’t Destroy Me, a gritty drama about the emotional sufferings of a teenage boy in a working-class Jewish family, was staged at the New Lindsey theatre club in Notting Hill, a few weeks after the premiere of Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. Within a year, a second play, Yes — And After, about a 14-year old girl sexually abused by an older man, was staged at the Royal Court.

However, it was not until 1966 that a Hastings play, Lee Harvey Oswald (Hampstead Theatre Club), a docudrama about the life of President Kennedy’s assassin, won critical recognition and commercial success. In 1978 he had his first West End hit with Gloo Joo (Criterion), which starred Oscar James as an illegal immigrant from the West Indies who dreams up a series of cunning stratagems to avoid deportation. The play struck The Daily Telegraph’s critic as “a refreshingly lighthearted farce about colour prejudice” and won the Evening Standard Comedy of the Year Award in 1979.


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