There’s a notice about this in the Celebrity Death Pool thread, but he deserves his own thread.
I loved Equus when I saw it in the theater. I had the good fortune to see Amadeus on Broadway with Frank Langella doing a wonderful Salieri. I’ve seen the film versions of both, along with the filmed version of The Royal Hunt of the Sun (I wish I’d seen that on Broadway, with Carradine as Atahuallpa). I’ve read his plays. Overall, I prefer the theatrical versions – Shaffer works better on stage than rationalized in film. In Amadeus, I felt I could get inside Salieri’s madness. Despite F. Murray Abraham’s performance in the film, it was just rewritten too much to convey the same feel.
I never read or saw Five Finger Exercise, The Private Eye or The Public Ear. The plays I list above arte certainly his most famous. They’re all ostensibly about historical incidents, but Shaffer re-uses and re-arranges things, because these plays are about God and Man and their relationship. He knew perfectly well that he was playing fast and loose with the historical facts of the biographies Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Atahuallpa and the British boy who blinded six horses, but that was his intent. The playbill notes for the plays and an on-screen note should have warned audiences about this, because too many people thought they were seeing the Real Story (or as real as you get in a movie) of these characters. There’s a reason he titled the play “Amadeus” (“God’s Beloved”) rather than “Mozart”. Or even “SAlieri”
I’m surprised at the paucity of his noted plays. You’d think that he would have written more of them. But they’re worth having.
Liked all of his plays I read (Lettice & Lovage not as much as the others, but still good).
Though I do hope that somebody makes him a character in a play who bears no relationship to the real person just on general principal- a playwright and secret Nazi sympathizer kangaroo furry, perhaps.