What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton (1969)
Theatre | Comedy: Satirical Farce
“Joe Orton’s last play, What the Butler Saw, will live to be accepted as a comedy classic of English literature” (Sunday Telegraph) The chase is on in this breakneck comedy of licensed insanity, from the moment when Dr Prentice, a psychoanalyst interviewing a prospective secretary, instructs her to undress. The plot of What the Butler Saw contains enough twists and turns, mishaps and changes of fortune, coincidences and lunatic logic to furnish three or four conventional comedies. But however the six characters in search of a plot lose the thread of the action – their wits or their clothes – their verbal self-possession never deserts them. Hailed as a modern comedy every bit as good as Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Orton’s play is regularly produced, read and studied. What the Butler Saw was Orton’s final play.”He is the Oscar Wilde of Welfare State gentility” (Observer)
pooled ink Review:
Oh the tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive!
Madness! This play is utter madness! The best and most hilarious kind of madness.
P.S. BBC filmed this play and you can watch it online. The read was funny but watching the performance? Hysterical.
Posted on Goodreads on February 15, 2015
Purchase here: What the Butler Saw
Meet Joe Orton!
John Kingsley (“Joe”) Orton was an English playwright. In a short but prolific career lasting from 1964 until his death, he shocked, outraged and amused audiences with his scandalous black comedies. The adjective Ortonesque is now used to refer to something characterised by a dark but farcical cynicism.