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A: Bill Naughton Pf: 1963, London Pb: 1963 G: Drama in 3 acts S: London, 1960s C: 9m, 9fAlfie is a carefree, chirpy Cockney, whose main aim in life is to seduce as many women as he can, treating the audience to slick comments as he enters on to each new conquest. He has an affair with Siddie, a sophisticated and attractive married woman, who is attracted by Alfie's rough boyish charm. Less challenging is Gilda, a submissive girl who is easily available. Then there is Annie, whom he picks up in a motorway service station, and Ruby, a rich older woman. When Gilda becomes pregnant, Alfie, horrified at the thought of emotional commitment, is relieved when she marries her long-standing boyfriend Humphrey. But he becomes attached to the child and has to be sent away by Gilda. Unused to being rejected, he takes it out on Annie, who also leaves him. He takes the unprecedented step of proposing marriage to Ruby, and is dismayed when he discovers that she is unfaithful to him. Contracting tuberculosis, he is hospitalized and manages to seduce Lily, the wife of another patient. She becomes pregnant and elects to have an abortion. At last Alfie is deeply moved by this experience, and is just about to resign himself to a lonely life, when Siddie reappears.

A: Bill Naughton Pf: 1963, London Pb: 1963 G: Drama in 3 acts S: London, 1960s C: 9m, 9f

Both on stage and in its film version with Michael Caine in the title role, this play became an influential reference point for the ‘swinging sixties’, the period when Britain emerged from post-war austerity and, assisted by the introduction of the contraceptive pill, decisively rejected Victorian morality. However, these new ‘freedoms’, Naughton implies, were not without their cost.

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Bill Naughton (1910—1992) writer