David Campton  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

David Campton (June 5, 1924September 9, 2006) was a prolific British dramatist who wrote plays for the stage, radio, and cinema for thirty-five years. He is often mentioned in conjuction with the Theatre of the Absurd".

In performance reviews of productions of Campton's play The Lunatic View: A Comedy of Menace and The Birthday Party, by Harold Pinter, published in the short-lived British drama magazine Encore, drama critic Irving Wardle borrowed the term "comedy of menace" from the subtitle of Campton's play, popularizing the term "comedies of menace".

Campton addressed the matter of critics' "pigeonholing" his work:

"I dislike pigeonholes and object to being popped into one. However, one label that might fit is the title of an anthology of my plays: Laughter and Fear. This is not quite the same as comedy of menace, which has acquired a connotation of theatre of the absurd. It is in fact present in my lightest domestic comedy. It seems to me that the chaos affecting everyone today––political, technical, sociological, religious, etc., etc.,––is so all-pervading that it cannot be ignored, yet so shattering that it can only be approached through comedy. Tragedy demands firm foundations; today we are dancing among the ruins."

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