Saved Critical Response to "Saved"

Upon its premiere, Saved was censored by the Lord Chamberlain, who deemed the scene of infanticide unfit for theaters. After a legal struggle, the Lord Chamberlain's office was forced to allow production of the play, which led to the abolition of theater censorship in 1968. Even so, audiences and critics did not take kindly to the play, even after the censorship laws had been lifted, with many complaining about its horrific depiction of violence in working-class London.

In an article about the play in The Guardian, Maddy Costa writes, "...most critics, it seemed, were damning and vituperative. They despised Bond's characters, his "slavishly literal bawdry", the lack of artistry in his writing. In particular, the baby stoning scene, which filled the Telegraph's WA Darlington with "cold disgust," was condemned as the "ugliest," "nastiest," "most sickening and revolting" exercise in "brutality" ever seen on the modern stage." Audiences were also horrified by the play, often vocalizing their distaste for the onstage drama. Costa writes, "'It is not often in that hardened audience you hear the cry 'Revolting' and 'Dreadful' and the smack of seats vacated, but you did last night,' commented Peter Lewis, theatre critic for the Daily Mail, in one of the relatively positive reviews."

Saved has rarely been revived since its initial production, but it has been accepted into the theatrical canon as a masterpiece, and many have praised it as a delicate play that takes on difficult and sobering themes. Costa writes about Bond's own response to the play suggesting that the playwright "...believes people were most disturbed by an accusation that lay beneath the surface of the play: that the violence of Auschwitz and Hiroshima was not locked in the past but embedded in the fabric of British society, ready to erupt from a frustrated underclass. 'I wanted to show that we are destructive of human values,' he says. 'The people who are killing the baby are doing it to gain their self-respect, because they want to assert human values.'"