What The Butler Saw runs at Leicester Curve Theatre until Saturday 18 March 2017 prior to a run at Theatre Royal Bath, to book tickets to see the play in Leicester, click the link: Leicester Curve Theatre Box Office
Star rating: ****
Joe Orton isn’t renowned for shying away from sex, madness and randomness! What The Butler Saw deals with all of the above whilst maintaining a ‘bedroom farce’ style of quick wit, entrances and exits. It’s a play that throws the audience into disarray with its ridiculous and twisted plot, yet it’s extremely hilarious to watch it play out. I was unfamiliar with the script, I had anticipated the story being taken in a full circle, but instead the outcome was wholly unexpected!
Rufus Hound stars as Dr Prentice, the sex-obsessed Psychiatrist who has a vacancy for a Secretary at his practice. Geraldine Barclay (Dakota Blue Richards) is the young lady in line for the post and she finds herself attending a most unorthodox job interview as the boss-to-be insists on giving her a full medical examination, despite the fact that he is not that sort of doctor, as his wife reminds him! Unclothed and naively awaiting her medical examination, the young girl is left behind the curtain as Mrs Prentice (Catherine Russell) arrives back from her stay at the Station Hotel earlier than expected. Having been on the receiving end of attempted rape and robbery, Mrs Prentice is in a rather chipper mood and has brought the culprit, the hotel bell boy, Nicholas Beckett (Jack Holden). He’s quite a cocky youth who is open and honest about the pornographic photographs that he has in his possession and demands money for the negatives. He’s also got no qualms about discussing his sexual urges with Dr Prentice. Meanwhile, Dr Rance (Jasper Britton) arrives to give a government inspection and he’s as mad as a box of frogs. Seeking every reason to certify anybody he happens upon, as mad! With Dr Prentice attempting to hide his sordid plans for his interviewee from his wife and Dr Rance and both Geraldine and Nicholas unwitting bystanders yet unwilling accomplices. There’s chaos, a series of misunderstandings, mistaken identity and all in the name of the initial plot for misadventure.
As a comedy it’s a physically demanding piece which Rufus Hound throws himself into whole-heartedly and he has the comic timing to perform such a role to the highest standard. It was a privilege to watch Mr Hound on form in a part that fitted him to a tee. Catherine Russell was a brilliant match for Hound as Mrs Prentice, she delivered her lines with precision and threw her character in the madness at full throttle. A very different character to that of Serena in Holby City, which showcased another side to Russell’s ability. Dakota Blue Richards gave a strong performance as the recently bereaved job seeker, she embraced the nuances of the character superbly. Jack Holden transitioned from bell boy to ‘Geraldine’ with hilarious consequences as well as the highly skilled ability to adapt in every scene. Jasper Britton was like a mad professor as Dr Rance, he stumbled from one scenario to another as he deliberately misconstrued situations and tore off in various directions off-stage.
It’s certainly not a production for the faint hearted but if you enjoy mayhem, mass confusion and a good laugh, even if occasionally it’s the sort of laugh that is born out of cringing and disbelief, this is the show for you.