What the Butler Saw
by Joe Orton
directed by Alan Patrick Kenny
Odyssey Theatre/through March 11
Joe Orton's insanely insane world is no better displayed than in his What the Butler Saw now onstage at the Odyssey Theatre. A terrifically energized cast make the play soar under the astute guidance of director Alan Patrick Kenny through March 11.
Orton's way is rigorously raunchy whether satirizing sex, religion or politics. Like his other riotously funny play Loot, What the Butler Saw,as a true farce should do, keeps moving at lightning speed with more exits and entrances than one can count.... which barely allows a moment or two for the actors to come up for air. Mistaken identities - girl dresses as boy and boy dresses as girl - would of course be natural in the mind of Joe Orton who lived a vigorously homosexual life. He did it all ... ended up paying for his sins, but despite the consistent censorship abroad, the plays in modern time are more popular than ever. Even heterosexuals love them! Why? Audiences who get easily bored with the mundane will not do so as they watch Butler. There's one silly joke/embarrassing situation after another, and what is indeed remarkable is that the Orton insight into what makes a marriage work effectively or any organized chaos, for that matter, is so on target.
The one question most raise is "Why is the title What the Butler Saw, when the play takes place in an asylum and there is not one servant to be found?" We are the butlers, if you will, peeping through the keyhole to witness all the foul deeds perpetrated by our leaders onstage. It's as if the lower middle class were privy to all the dark secrets of their masters, relish all their splendid naughtiness and can't wait to share them with everyone else.
The entire ensemble is so marvelous that no one stands out over anyone else. Bravo to Geoffrey Wade, Jerry Della Salla, Ciaran Joyce, Melinda Parrett, Amanda Troop and John Walcutt! You all deserve a kiss, a hug and a medal for keeping up to the pace the show requires. Again, bravo...in fact a double bravo, bravo! Let's add another: bravo, bravo, bravo!
Ellen Lenbergs is to be credited with the great set design. I really felt locked inside a loony bin!