The Restoration of Arnold Middleton is a domestic tragicomedy of a thirty-something married couple and their unusual living arrangements. Arnie, a history teacher, is a delusional attention seeker with a penchant for cluttering his home with historical artefacts, much to the dismay of his wife, Joan, but much to the pleasure of his giddy mother-in law. As they await the long-anticipated visit of Arnie’s parents in a flurry of cleaning and tidying, the trio are visited by Arnie’s school colleagues, one of whom is conducting a suspect liaison with a pupil. The play follows Arnie’s lies and fantasies, indulged by his fellow teaching staff, to his ultimate breakdown, and to the breakdown of the curious domestic set-up that Arnie, Joan and her mother have put up with for years.
The Restoration of Arnold Middleton premiered at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in 1966, before moving to the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1967, with Eileen Atkins taking the part of Joan.