What The Butler Saw

Devonshire Park Theatre
What The Butler Saw

By Joe Orton

Directed by Michael Cabot

Within the pristine walls of his private psychiatric clinic, Doctor Prentice is interviewing a new secretary.  Geraldine wants the position but seems underqualified and uncertain about her parentage.  Mrs Prentice appears, flushed and in urgent need of a drink, following an illicit encounter with Nick Beckett, blackmailer and bell boy at the Station Hotel.  In the meantime, Doctor Rance, a Government Inspector and Sergeant Match, a policeman, arrive amidst increasing chaos with searching questions of their own.

What the Butler saw is Joe Orton’s final, most ambitious play, manic farce and masterclass in fearless comic writing.  No institution, political view or tradition is safe, as Orton focuses his wicked sense of humour on a range of targets, including the establishment, an ex-Prime Minister, cross-dressing, misogyny and the medical profession.  He brings together an array of distinctive characters, placing them in a series of improbable situations, unflinchingly exploring comic territory few playwrights before or since have dared to visit. 

John Kingsley (Joe) Orton, playwright, author and diarist was born in Leicester in 1933.  During a short, but dazzling career in the London theatre world, he shocked, outraged, and delighted audiences with his riotous black comedies, including Loot, The Erpingham Camp, The Ruffian on the Stair and Entertaining Mr Sloane. Joe Orton was battered to death by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, in 1967.

Contains strong language and subject matter which the playwright very much hoped audiences would find offensive.

You might also like