Psychoanalyst Dr Prentice is having a bad day. His attempted seduction of a new secretary is being thwarted by his wife, who in turn is being blackmailed by an upwardly-mobile hotel page. To cap it off there’s a government inspector at loose in the asylum and a police sergeant is hunting for parts of a statue of Sir Winston Churchill.
You’re in a madhouse. Unusual behaviour is the order of the day. (Dr Rance, Act 2)
As misunderstandings and confusion grow, anarchy gradually engulfs the asylum. Cross-dressing becomes the order of the day, drugs and straitjackets appear and shots are fired. Collective desperation reaches fever-pitch but however much the six characters lose the plot, their wits or their clothes, their verbal self-possession never deserts them.
Geraldine: We must tell the truth!
Prentice: That’s a thoroughly defeatist attitude. (Act 1)
Finished shortly before Orton’s death in 1967, What the Butler Saw mixes the bizarre and the commonplace to hugely comic effect. Staying true to the tradition of classic British farce, the play contains enough outrageous twists and turns, mishaps and changes of fortune, coincidences and lunatic logic to furnish any number of conventional comedies whilst revealing a thoroughly up-to-date take on hypocrisy, gender confusion, and the power of professionals.
Whilst some audiences were outraged when it was first performed, What the Butler Saw has now been accepted as “a comedy classic of English literature" (Sunday Telegraph)
A top-class ensemble of Next Stage actors are delighted to be making their first foray into the world of Joe Orton with this unmissable play.