| What the Butler Saw! |
Through Mar 3
Matinee: 2:30pm Feb 18
$20 general; $18 senior, military; $12 student
Valentine’s: 8pm Feb 14, $25 w/ coffee and dessert
1123 E. Commerce
The play, an archetypal farce by Joe Orton, expands upon the hilariously catastrophic effects of an unsuccessful attempt at infidelity. The opening scene reveals the devious, not-so-cunning plot of psychiatrist Dr. Prentice, played by Jay Hunter Overton, to seduce his unsuspecting secretarial candidate, Geraldine Barclay (Desiree Johnson-Cortez). The trouble begins when the doctor suggests that Ms. Barclay undress so that he may examine her credentials for the position — no pun intended, of course. She finds herself in the buff when a door-slamming whirlwind of visitors begins. In true farce form, Dr. Prentice is quickly muddled in a series of cover-ups that confounds all of the involved parties. Before long, characters are switching costumes, the police are involved, and the poor secretary ends up drugged and with a shaven head.
The rapid pace of the play’s elocution and stage direction is artfully mastered by this small cast. Of particular note is the eloquent Taylor Maddux in the role of psychiatrist Dr. Rance. Maddux madly flutters about the stage rambling psychological theory and certifying insane members of every involved party. His artful command of the bewildering script and active use of the set creates a believable mad-scientist character lost in a world of imaginary theory.
The Victorian-style set is complete with rich wooden furniture, built-in cabinets, and a flowery psychiatrist’s couch that “looks big enough for two.” Four doors, three up stage and one to stage right, provide dynamic entrance and exit points for sometimes scantily clad crew members. The nymphomaniac Mrs. Prentice, played by Mindee MacCollister, activates these entrances and exits in comic, yet frantic, drunkenness, deftly managing the line between obnoxious flamboyancy and slapstick humor.
Typical 1960s costuming adds dynamism to the scene as dresses, stockings, and shoes are frantically flung about. The attire at first glance seems banal; however, a quick undress reveals underwear of the modern era. Mrs. Prentice sports diamond-encrusted lingerie while policeman Sergeant Match exhibits faded plaid boxers. This inconsistency tends to disorient the historical context; however, the racy lace and satin also heighten the sexuality of the
Ultimately, the cast successfully masters the play’s visual and physical humor to craft a unique presentation of British theater.