The Ruling Class is a witty, double-edged and idiosyncratic satire in which a man diagnosed with paranoid-schizophrenia inherits a peerage.
After the 13th Earl of Gurney’s morbid nightly indulgence turns into an accidental suicide, the title and estate passes to his son Jack, who has until hitherto been living in a psychiatric institution. He brings with him a belief in divine love, a penchant for sleeping upright on a cross and the conviction that he is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. His family’s attempts first to manipulate and then to cure him result in the transformation of his ebullient and loquacious delusions into a far more sinister personality. The play is a unique collision of wit, pathos, melodrama, cynicism and horror, creating an iconoclastic and mesmeric theatre.
The Ruling Class was first presented at the Nottingham Playhouse in 1968.