What The Butler Saw

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Previewed 4 May 2012, Opened 16 May 2012, Closed 28 July 2012 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London

A major revival of Joe Orton's classic comedy What the Butler Saw in London starring Omid Djalili and Samantha Bond and directed by Sean Foley.

In Joe Orton's classic farce What The Butler Saw a psychiatric clinic becomes a world of carnivalesque chaos when rampant libidos, mistaken identities, undressing and cross dressing add layer upon layer of michievous confusion to this farcical masterpiece.

The cast for What the Butler Saw features Omid Djalili as 'Dr Rance' and Samantha Bond as 'Mrs Prentice' along with Tim McInnerny as 'Dr Prentice', Georgia Moffett as 'Geraldine Barclay', Jason Thorpe as 'Sergeant Match' and Nick Hendrix as 'Nicholas Beckett'. The production is directed by Sean Foley with designs by Alice Power, lighting by Johanna Town and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham. Omid Djalili's West End credits include playing 'Fagin' in Oliver! the Musical (Drury Lane 2009). Samantha Bond's recent West End theatre credits include Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (Vaudeville Theatre 2010), Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (Duke of York's Theatre 2009), Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance (Haymarket Theatre 2003) and William Shakespeare's Macbeth (Noel Coward Theatre 2002). Sean Foley's West End credits include Do You Come Here Often? at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1998. His directing credits include the stage adaptation of the 'Ealing Comedy' The Ladykillers (Gielgud Theatre 2011) and Harold Pinter's Pinter's People (Haymarket Theatre 2007). Joe Orton's other comedies include Entertaining Mr Sloane and Loot. In addition, Joe Orton was the subject of Simon Bent's Prick Up Your Ears (Harold Pinter Theatre 2009).

"The play still tingles with the pleasurable electricity of the illicit, and is so beautifully written, very nearly Wildean. Sean Foley's production shows an admirable lack of qualms about all the taboo subjects on parade... Witty and shocking, Orton is also sometimes extremely astute... Just occasionally, especially towards the end, there are the moments when the comedy seems to veer from the black into the merely sick. It's a distinction hard to define, and different for everybody anyway; but while black comedy is an honest acknowledgment that there is a funny side to death as well as life, sick humour seems to invite us, or even command us, to laugh at the spectacle of human suffering, which isn't quite the same thing... This is still a terrific, no-holdsbarred production, perfectly attuned to the provocative schoolboy spirit of the playwright, and just as it should be." The Sunday Times

"In What the Butler Saw, first performed in 1969, two years after his death, Joe Orton takes the 'oops doctor, where's me undies?' comedy of Brian Rix and loads it with pitch-black humour. Its trappings are those of commercial, farcical laughs, but its anti-establishment attitude is something quite different. In the director Sean Foley's riotous new production, he allows the actors free rein to delight in the grotesqueries of Orton's characters... The spirit of Monty Python - first broadcast in the year this play opened - is unleashed. This is rude and racy stuff, which must once have felt subversive. But now it feels, well, rather dated. The targets are those of another era, and you sense that today Orton, with his savage humour, would have had fresher hogs to roast." The Sunday Telegraph

"'Filth!' cried the outraged audience at the 1969 premiere of Joe Orton's farce What The Butler Saw, but many judged it shockingly good. These days, momentary glimpses of a young man's dangly bits, of women in their underwear and the surviving (private) part of a statue of Winston Churchill have lost the power even to startle. And Sean Foley's woefully mirthless production succeeds only in being shockingly tedious. He makes a big mistake by starting off the lunacy at a frenetic pace... It's impossible to care what's going on or why because none of the action is even vaguely rooted in reality. There is absolutely nothing at stake for any of the characters, all crazy or crazed from the start... Orton's point is that no one is wholly male or female and everyone's a bit mad, but you'd be bonkers to want to find that out this way." The Mail on Sunday

What the Butler Saw in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 4 May 2012, opened on 16 May 2012 and closes on 28 July 2012.

What the Butler Saw 2005

Opened 24 August 2005, Closed 22 October 2005 at the Criterion Theatre in London

In Joe Orton's classic farce What The Butler Saw a psychiatric clinic becomes a world of carnivalesque chaos when rampant libidos, mistaken identities, undressing and cross dressing add layer upon layer of michievous confusion to this farcical masterpiece. What the Butler Saw is directed by David Grindley and comes into London's West End following a season at The Hampstead Theatre with all the cast reprising their roles - Geoff Breton, Jonathan Coy, Huw Higginson, Belinda Lang, Joanna Page and Malcolm Sinclair. It is directed by David Grindley with designs by Jonathan Fensom, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke. This production transfers to London's West End following a critically acclaimed run at the Hampstead Theatre in North London

"Like a retired colonel in a negligee, Joe Orton's final filthy farce still manages to generate a transgressive frisson despite its age... This robust revival vigorously promotes a sense of cheery perversion as Orton upends the psychosexual toy box. The able cast run around a private psychiatric clinic in a frenzy and their underwear, and as the door-slamming farce spirals wildly, they keep their one-liners as tight as their Y-fronts... This production tunes into a play that remains as startling as early colour television in a black-and-white world." The Sunday Times

"What The Butler Saw by Joe Orton, first performed in 1969 to much outrage and controversy, has been revived... The question is, has it survived?... [David Grindley] clearly believes that Orton's script is clever and quick enough to counteract the lack of outrage or controversy that will be caused by his no-longer shocking thoughts on the police, psychiatry or the Sexual Offences Act... so Grindley sticks limpet-like to the original. He even has the cast talking in farce voices, as if in an episode of Bless This House. The set, however, is brilliant in its authenticity." The Sunday Telegraph

"Designed to shock the Sixties establishment, Joe Orton's comedy may yet provoke tut-tuts of disapproval among the politically correct of today... Grindley's direction is as carefully micro-managed as an episode of Fawlty Towers, stripping Orton's script down to devilishly choreographed detail - whether it be the crossing of legs, the arching of eyebrows or the dropping of trousers. Jonathan Fensom's period design is no less exact... But it is Malcolm Sinclair, as the deranged psychiatric inspector who steals the show... Brilliantly terse, he turns Orton's sexual satire into a deliriously crazed, poker-faced delight. You'd be mad to miss it." The Daily Mail

What the Butler Saw in London at the Criterion Theatre opened on 24 August 2005 and closed on 22 October 2005 (no preview performances)