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Edward Bond, a playwright who shocked the stage world with 'Saved,' dies at 89

LONDON — Edward Bond, a playwright who shocked the British theater world with his explosive 1965 drama “Saved,” has died, his agent said Tuesday. He was 89.

Bond’s literary agency, Casarotto Ramsay and Associates, said that he died on Sunday. No cause of death was given.

Bond was born in London on July 18, 1934, and his childhood was overshadowed by World War II, which saw the city repeatedly bombed. He left school at 15, worked in factories and served two years of national service in the army before gaining success as a writer.

His first play, “The Pope’s Wedding,” was staged in 1962 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, which shook up British drama with plays by Bond, John Osborne and other writers dubbed the “angry young men.”

Three years later, the same venue staged “Saved,” a play about alienated urban youth that included a scene in which a gang of teenagers stone a baby to death in its pram. At the time, plays needed approval from an official known as the Lord Chamberlain, and the Royal Court was prosecuted for staging “Saved” without a license.

Among its defenders was actor-director Laurence Olivier, who wrote to The Observer newspaper: “’Saved’ is not a play for children but it is for grown-ups, and the grown-ups of this country should have the courage to look at it.”

The theater lost the case, and both “Saved” and Bond’s next play, “Early Morning,” a scabrous satire on British royalty, were banned in Britain.

The controversy sparked a legal review that, in 1968, ended stage censorship in Britain. “Saved” is now regarded as a modern classic and has been produced around the world.

Several of Bond’s plays drew inspiration from William Shakespeare, including “The Sea,” which evokes “The Tempest,” and “Lear,” a reworking of “King Lear.” Shakespeare was the central character in “Bingo,” produced in 1974 with John Gielgud as the Bard in the last years of his life.

An exacting character who often fell out with directors, Bond wrote more than 50 plays, including 18th-century class comedy “Restoration” and trilogy “The War Plays.” He influenced younger playwrights, notably the late Sarah Kane, whose 1995 play “Blasted” shocked audiences as much as “Saved” had 30 years earlier.

His final play to be staged, in 2016, was “Dea,” a forceful adaptation of the Greek tragedy “Medea.”

Bond also worked on movie screenplays, including “Blow-Up”— which earned him an Academy Award nomination — “Laughter in the Dark” and “Walkabout.”

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