Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy
Advertisement
Share
News

‘Butler’ delivers in comic timing, spirit

Lisa Dupuy

Theatre Banshee’s “What the Butler Saw” is a high-spirited British

farce delivered with impeccable comic timing in its run at the Gene

Bua Theatre in Burbank.

Advertisement

While all six actors give outstanding performances, the clear star

is playwright Joe Orton, bad boy of 1960s London theater. Mark Twain

once wrote, “The difference between the perfect word and the almost

perfect word is the difference between lightning and the lightning

Advertisement

bug.”

Orton has created an electrical storm of repartee with the

accuracy of Shakespeare and the wit of Oscar Wilde. There is nary a

butler to be found in this story of mistaken identity and sexual

misconduct.

Its title derives from a nickelodeon peep show where, for a

shilling, regular folk could peek into the secret, slightly racy

world of the elite. Director Sean Branney of Glendale pulls no

Advertisement

punches in his depiction of the tawdry underbelly of British

aristocracy.

Matt Foyer stands out as the neurotic Dr. Prentice. And MacKerrin

Kelly, as his wife, shows a real flair for comedy. The physical

pratfalls and compromising positions the actors pull off are

hilarious and choreographed to perfection.

Not one cue, verbal or physical, was missed. The dialogue is

delivered with delightfully unrelenting speed and usually clearly

Advertisement

understood. Unfortunately, Dr. Rance, played by Noah Wagner, tended

to muffle his lines. A real shame because the part is so juicy.

The set was disappointingly sparse. Typical of a psychiatric

clinic, but it could’ve used a vintage medical poster or two. All in

all, this preposterous and joyous spoof of psychiatric academia is as

appropriate today as it was 35 years ago and performed with a

vitality rare in modern theater.


Advertisement