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Previewed 1 June 2011, Opened 6 June 2011, Closed 27 August 2011 at the Duchess Theatre in London
A major revival of Simon Gray's award-winning play Butley in London starring Dominic West with Paul McGann and Penny Downie and directed by Lindsay Posner.
Rapier-tongued lecturer Ben Butley is having a monumentally bad day. In fact, it is so bad, he's making sure everyone else is having a worse one. His estranged wife has taken up with the most boring man in London. His beloved protégé has found a new benefactor, and one he is actually sleeping with, to boot. Then in an unprecedented act of betrayal even the English Department's resident failure has landed a book deal. Ben Butley, once a charismatic tutor and an authority on T. S. Eliot, now sharpens his mind on his unfortunate colleagues while trying to evade his more persistent students. Mischievous irony and gleeful trouble-making all feature in his arsenal - inevitably though they prove to be the weapons of his own tragic self-destruction.
This revival of Butley in London stars Dominic West in the title role of 'Ben Butley'. He is joined by Paul McGann as 'Reg Nuttall' and Penny Downie as 'Edna Shaft'. The production is directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Peter McKintosh.
"Now here's an actor at full stretch - timed to a hair, using the space, mixing subtlety into broad comedy and absurdity into emotion. You might not expect a star whose fame rests most strongly on being a dour TV cop in The Wire to triumph in Simon Gray's autobiographical caricature of a disaffected 1970s English lecturer and walking emotional disaster. But Dominic West is amazing... Lindsay Posner, the director, should not worry if laughs are not as audible as Gray's deadly humour and his sharp staging deserve. You don't laugh aloud when you are engrossed, which makes it all the more cathartic when there is an outburst of audience hilarity at the magnificently offensive rant in Act 2, when Butley crashes off the rails and breaches every boundary of decency and sense to abuse the gay Reg. It is electric." The Times
"Butley is a powerfully drawn character brought to fiery and furious life in Lindsay Posner's cracking revival by Dominic West, from cult TV series The Wire. A thoroughly egotistical, irresponsible, lazy, snobbish drunk, so desultory a father that he has forgotten his baby's name, West's achievement is that he is not only entertaining but also oddly sympathetic. Like Shaw's Professor Higgins, he's an intellectual with no emotional intelligence whatsoever. West captures all Butley's complexity: his inordinate cleverness, his disenchantment, his restless unfocused energy and, most importantly, the acute loneliness and sense of inadequacy that lie beneath." The Mail on Sunday
Dominic West played the character of 'Jimmy McNulty' in five seasons of The Wire from 2002 to 2008. His London West End theatre credits include playing 'Orlando' in Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005 and Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2006. Penny Downie's recent London West End stage credits include playing the role of 'Gertrude' in Shakespeare's Hamlet for the RSC at the Novello Theatre in 2008 in a production which starred David Tennant as 'Hamlet' and Patrick Stewart as 'Claudius' and Moira Buffini's comedy Dinner at the National Theatre's temporary Loft Theatre Space and Wyndham's Theatre in 2002/2003. Paul McGann is probably best known for playing 'Marwood' in the film Withnail and I. His television credits include 'Percy Topliss' in the BBC series The Monocled Mutineer and the eighth Doctor in Doctor Who. Simon Gray's West End theatre plays include Old Masters, The Holy Terror, Quartermaine's Terms, The Common Pursuit, Otherwise Engaged, Life Support and The Last Cigarette.
Simon Gray's play Butley was originally presented in London's West End at the Criterion Theatre in July 1971 starring Alan Bates as 'Butley' and directed by Harold Pinter. It was hailed by The London Evening Standard as being "a brilliant play - one of the delights of the year." The production won the Evening Standard Drama Awards for 'Best Play' for Simon Gray and 'Best Actor in a Play' for Alan Bates. When Alan Bates left, the role of 'Butley was taken over firstly by Richard Briers and then finally Alec McCowen prior to the play closing in October 1972 after a run of 15 months.
Butley in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 1 June 2011, opened on 6 June 2011 and closed on 27 August 2011.