‘What The Butler Saw’ was written in 1967 by the controversial playwright, Joe Orton. After a setback in getting a producer, it was premiered in 1969. This Community Partnership production from the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and London Street Theatre Group is being presented at the comfortable and intimate, 120-seat Fishtrap Theatre in the Mandurah Centre, Ormsby Terrace, Mandurah. A family rider on the train for $11, a relaxing 40-minute trip and a free bus from the station to the theatre door, what more can you want? Cheaper than parking in Perth.
The 2 hour and 20 minute performances of this fun-filled, riotous and bawdy comedy run until Saturday 11th August. Performances on Thursday and Saturday nights are at 8.00 pm. At 6.30 on Sunday and with an extra matinee on Saturday at 2.00 pm.
The late sixties was a time when many people didn’t know what homosexuality was, and most folks definitely didn’t actually know anyone ‘personally’ who was a homosexual. Sex before marriage was unheard of – then the pill was invented! Faced by such objectionable Victorian attitudes, and in his endeavours to bring enlightenment to the masses, Joe Orton brought out this wacky play. Beautifully written, it is a clever, sexy comedy that edges on farce and challenged many of the narrow-minded ideals of the day.
When a beautiful young, innocent girl, Geraldine Barclay (Natalie Burbage) arrives at the practice of psychoanalyst Dr Prentice (Geoffrey Leeder) looking for a job as medical secretary, the highly sexed doctor feels the need to give her a thorough medical before employing her. Just as Geraldine removes her final piece of clothing, the doctor’s dipsomaniacal, nymphomaniac of a wife (Carole Dhu) arrives.
Unaware of the interviewée and the doctor’s panic, the wife admits to having spent the night at the Station Hotel making passionate love to the young bellboy, Nicholas (Benn Rayner). As a reward for his services rendered, the bellboy demands to be the new practice secretary. Just as pandemonium reigns, an inspector from the medical board, Dr Rance (Peter Shaw) arrives to check on and study the psychoanalytical techniques of the Dr Prentice.
By now, most of poor Geraldine’s clothes have disappeared, into the bin or hidden around the surgery. How will she get out of this embarrassing situation? Will the strength of the law, Sergeant Match (Paul Adams) be her saviour?
There was even a bit part for Sir Winston Churchill, that upright member of the Tory Party.
What an extremely talented cast the director, Brad Tudor, has gathered. Great pace, clear enunciation and total commitment to this demanding play. In many comedies, all of the actors are in the same style of script humour, in this play Orton has made Prentice a supercilious and self assured practitioner, this is superbly carried off by Geoff. Natalie, who gave us a serious and wonderful characterisation in ‘The 39 Steps’ has had the bravery to turn her talents to being the half-naked, sexy and confused receptionist. Carole Dhu, who recently wrote an amazing award winning stage drama about wife abuse, has joined the insane team, donned her finest underwear and helped to bring the house down with laughter.
Big congratulations to Peter, who, as the pedantic neurologist, always assumed the worst of the patients giving the most complicated analysis of their condition. The script that he had to conquer was dense and tongue twisting, but a hilarious piece of writing.
Just as you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the frustrated doctor, more clothes fall off. Have you ever wondered why a policeman’s helmet is 6 inches high? Benn Rayner gives you the answer! Paul Adams as the dim policeman added the final madness and lack of decorum to the whole plot.
Elaine Bruce and Lyn Leeder have brought Brad Tudor’s bright and zany costumes to life. Dan Rickman and Clint Gerard have created an interesting lighting design, with changes to red lights accompanied by Benny Hill’s Theme Tune as the clothing flies! Sean Read’s set is solidly constructed, with several unusual props being sourced by Natalie Burbage.
This is a cleverly constructed piece of writing, delivered fearlessly and with a great deal of skill. Showing its age slightly, but very funny.
Hot Room Theatre Group
in association with Horizon Theatre presents