Billy Liar

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, based on Waterhouse'searlier novel. It was first performed in 1960 in London, with AlbertFinney and Tom Courtenay in the leading roles. The play concerns BillyFisher, 19, a lower-middle-class lad who has big dreams of fame andfortune but lacks the talent or gumption to realize them. To survivehis dull northern-English life, he lies and fantasizes, causing griefto his family, friends, and employer (an undertaker). In his daydreamshe supposes himself to be various important or glamorous figures,including a general, a doctor, and a politician. When Billy becomesengaged to two girls at the same time, he loses control. One of them,Barbara, comes to tea with his family to announce their wedding plans,but runs into his other fiancĂ©e, Rita, and a row ensues. Billy'smate, Arthur Crabtree, warns him that Rita's brother is on the warpath,so Billy sets off to become a television scriptwriter in London witha third girlfriend, Liz. However, he misses the train.
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