Billy Liar


Writers: Keith Waterhouse Willis Hall


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Comedy
Contemporary, Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
A house in Northern England., Late 1950s.
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Ensemble Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly female cast
Includes elderly, adult, late teen characters


Adapted from the novel of the same name, an imaginative young man and his dysfunctional family anchor this three-act play that’s been a popular staple of British stages and amateur theatres around the world since 1960. As the title might suggest, Billy Liar’s central character is Billy, a liar. He lies almost every time he opens his mouth, from creating a fictional backstory about his father to juggling marriage engagement to two different girls (while in love with a third). But Billy’s lies are more than just the impulsive acts of a teenage miscreant-they reveal a deep desire to escape a lackluster and oppressive working-class world. The colorful cast of characters is rounded out by Billy’s parents, Geoffrey and Alice, his grandmother Florence, friend Arthur, and, of course, the girls: Barbara, Liz, and Rita. The play is considered semi-comedic, with clear elements of kitchen sink drama that reveal its more poignant undertones. After the play’s success, the story was turned into a movie, a TV sitcom, and a musical.

Lead Characters

Billy Liar guide sections