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“What the Butler Saw” – New Vic Theatre

Written by on 5 July 2024

“What the Butler Saw” – New Vic Theatre

Written by Joe Orton – Produced by London Classic Theatre

Photographs courtesy of Sheila Burnett

 A fast-moving farce, full of mistaken identity, undressing, gender swaps and general misconduct.

Set in the private clinic of Dr Prentice (John Dorney) who it seems is trying to seduce a young lady applying for the job as his secretary (Rosanna Miles).  The introduction of Mrs Prentice (Holly Smith) and the bell-boy Nicholas Beckett (Alex Cardall) add more comedic possibilities and Doctor Rance (Jack Lord) and the Policeman (Paul Sandys) completed the group.

It was almost a full house at the New Vic Theatre – with many older people in the audience – and there was a lot of laughter.  And yes, it was funny and chaotic.  We were warned of partial nudity and bad language – and there wasn’t much of either of these things, but rather many difficult subjects and words used that make us feel uncomfortable.  The whole idea that someone turns up for an interview and ends up nude is frankly ridiculous, as is much of the plot. But that is what makes it funny.

Although it was quite an intricate story with all of the ins and outs becoming apparent at the end, the script did lack a certain something.  That said, the actors all performed very well and did a great job with a script from back in the 1960’s that in some places was almost like a ‘Carry On film’.  Two actors were drafted in and performed impeccably – Rosanna Miles and Paul Sandys – both looking very comfortable in their role.  Jack Lord was particularly amusing as Doctor Rance.

 

Is it one of the best plays I have seen at The New Vic? No!  But then again we have had some amazing productions at The New Vic.  I wonder if because this play has been performed at end stage theatres around the country, if the transition to the round wasn’t as successful as when a play is actually written for the round.

However, I don’t wish to sound negative – there were many laugh out loud moments!  The play is well worth seeing for a good old giggle, some great fast paced acting and a very quick glimpse of Alex Cardall’s derriere!!

Three stars from us for this play!

You can see ‘What the Butler saw at the New Vic – until Saturday 6th. For more information and to book call the Box Office on 01782 717962 or visit newvictheatre.org.uk

Here is a chat I had with Alex Cardall a few weeks ago