What the Butler Saw

Dolman Theatre

Newport Playgoers are no strangers to the world of farce. In recent years the society has undertaken several productions where the cast members have lost an item of clothing for the sake of their art.

The society’s latest presentation Joe Orton’s 1967 play What the Butler Saw takes them into new territory mixing a politically incorrect comic scenario with surrealism and dark humour.

The content is undoubtedly how the writer would have intended it, Orton died violently within weeks of completing it, leaving future generations to ponder on his observations of the all to familiar comedy farce set-up diluted with the constantly evolving sexual revolution of 60s Britain.

Much of What the Butler Saw’s deep rooted dark humour allows the audience to re-evaluate the concept of farce, and as illustrated in Wednesday night’s opening performance, that doesn’t always, mean the jokes have to be laugh out loud.

Chris Bissex Williams gives a comic portrayal of psychiatric Doctor Prentice who allows his attempted seduction of his bubbly new secretary (Chloe Williams) to get bizarrely out of hand when his wife returns unexpectedly.

The provocative Mrs Prentice, portrayed by Playgoers’ own Queen of comedy Nicky Davies is in turn been blackmailed by a hotel page boy (Stuart Moss) in relation to an inappropriate encounter.

The additional appearance of government commissioner Dr Rance portrayed as a psychological ticking time bomb by Lyndon House and Ray Stone’s fabulously disturbed but dutiful policeman go on to make this presentation a personal triumph for Newport Playgoers .

What The Butler saw continues until Saturday, for tickets contact 01633 263670.

Andy Howells