Welcome to the madhouse, as Joe Orton’s legendary 1967 comedy opens at the Vaudeville Theatre this spring. Starring Omid Djalili, Tim McInnerny and Samantha Bond, What the Butler Saw is an insanely funny, full-throttle tour de farce directed by Sean Foley. One-liners and outrageous twists collide, as the characters loose the plot, their wits, and their clothes.
When psychoanalyst Dr Prentice instructs his new secretary to undress, he doesn’t expect to be interrupted by his wife, her blackmailing lover, a government inspector and an inquisitive policeman. But hiding a naked woman is the least of his worries, as libidos run riot, identities are swapped, social decorum is buried, madness mocks morality and laughter reigns.
What the Butler Saw is the last, and arguably finest, work of one of this nation’s most celebrated playwrights. You’d be mad to miss it.
Joe Orton’s last play, which was never confirmed at the time of his death in May, 1967 is difficult to obtain because it blends comedy with societal critique. That does not exclude the production of Seon Foley. Everybody jumps over their knees, screams and screams that Orton is buried under coarse action.
You know it would be an exorbitant evening since Tink’s McInnerny contracted in an attempt to get the secretary to assume to strip off his outrageous hee-hawing beginner. Nick Hendrix, director Nick Hendrix The merciless front of the hotel recommends seeing his goal in announcing that. “I had a childhood,” and from his first entry, Omid Djalili played a fraudulent Whitehall agent who delivered every line as if it were a key point of play. All of this is in the first 10 minutes. The possibility of a physical attack intensifies out of the window.
What you lose is any feeling that Orton is trying to say is that there is a strict categorization of people who are crazy or straightforward or gay, a distraction from experience.
Accepting Orton made his point through a ridiculous joke about how a fussy psychiatrist led to the lie of cross dressing, misconceptions, and the pursuit of wilderness. But it is a measure of the importance of Foley’s eyesight, which shrinks seemingly to drop from a laughable web page. “You can not be irrational in an irrational world.” Foley is also painting lilies with two main characters smashed on the limitless supplies of whiskey. A funny killer, if ever, has come from a nightmare of jokes, depending on who has been painfully warned about their situation.
Foley’s folly can not suppress Orton’s mental retardation, and one or two actors still maintain visible humanity: especially Georgia Moffett, as a secretary who was classified as a deranged man. And Jason Thorpe as a non-partisan police officer. But even the great Samantha Bond, while the victim of sexual contractions, was forced to overpower her. The final result is a strange cartoon, which Orton no sense of danger.
This revival fizzes
WHAT THE BUTLER SAW was Joe Orton’s final play. Completed in July 1967 (less than a month before his death), it was first staged in March 1969 at the Queen’s Theatre in London.
When psychoanalyst Dr Prentice, played by Tim McInnerny, instructs his new secretary (Georgia Moffett) to undress, little does he expect to be interrupted by his wife (Samantha Bond), her blackmailing lover (Nick Hendrix), a meddling government inspector (Omid Djalili) and an inquisitive policeman (Jason Thorpe). But hiding a naked woman is the least of his worries, as libidos run riot, identities are swapped and social decorum is buried.
A terrific, no-holds-barred production
The Sunday Times
What the Butler Saw opened at the Vaudeville Theatre on Wednesday 16 May 2012. Following previews from Friday 4 May, for a strictly limited season, ending on Saturday 28th July 2012.
Cast included: Omid Djalili, Tim McInnerny, Samantha Bond, Georgia Moffett, Jason Thorpe and Nick Hendrix.
Director: Sean Foley
Set Designer: Alice Power
Costume Designer: Jack Galloway
Lighting Designer: Johanna Town
Sound Designer: Ben and Max Ringham
Presented by MJE Productions.