'Saved' is a play written by the British playwright Edward Bond, which had its premiere at the Royal Court, a well-established London theatre, in 1969. Set in what were for many the 'Swinging Sixties' - the decade that brought Beatlemania, space exploration and prominent anti-nuclear protest to the fore - the play tackles head on the darker side of this decade for Pam, Len and Fred, the play's main characters, where severe poverty and social alienation blighted the lives of the working-class poor.
Featuring what is still one of the most shocking scenes in the history of British theatre, in which the audience witnesses the stoning to death of a new-born baby, 'Saved' was initially refused a licence by the Lord Chamberlain's Office, meaning it couldn't be performed in public. The decision to perform the play to large audiences in private, however, prompted the Lord Chamberlain to take all those involved in putting the play on to court. Though the defendants were found guilty and ordered to pay fines, the decision to prosecute backfired as it precipitated the closure of the Lord Chamberlain's Office and an end to the censorship of theatre in Britain. After its closure in 1968, the following year saw the first public performances of the play.
Rarely performed nowadays, the play last had a major run in 2011 in London. Before that, it hadn't been performed by a professional theatre group since 1985. Undoubtedly one of the most controversial plays ever written, Bond challenges the audience not only to appreciate the hardship of working-class life in 60s London but also to allow the characters who commit what could be called infanticide to redeem themselves. If one of the functions of drama is to push the boundaries of the socially acceptable and make us think, this play is certainly guilty as charged.