The inmates are running the asylum! Well, not really, but it might be better if that were the case, in Joe Orton's classic sex-farce-with-a-kick What the Butler Saw, beginning its run at Fort Worth's Stage West on Thursday, July 5. Get a first look at the production in the photos below!
Geraldine Barclay is a young woman in search of a secretarial position. Unfortunately for her, she has been sent to interview with the lecherous psychiatrist Dr. Prentice at his private clinic. When his attempt to seduce her is interrupted by the arrival of his wife, he identifies the hapless girl as a patient. This lie is compounded with the arrival of Dr. Rance, a government mental health inspector, who decides to take on her case himself, and before she can catch her breath, Geraldine finds herself committed and drugged. And we're off on a wild ride, with authority run amok, mistaken identities, lost clothing, a blackmailing bellhop, a cross-dressing policeman, and rapid-fire dialogue worthy of Oscar Wilde. And because it's from the subversive mind of Joe Orton, nothing is sacred, not the government, not the mental health industry, not conventional mores, not even Winston Churchill.
Joe Orton was born January 1, 1933 in Leicester. He left school at age 16 after failing a key exam, and he struggled for several years as an amateur actor before gaining admittance to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. There he met Kenneth Halliwell, with whom he developed a life-long partnership. The pair collaborated on several unpublished novels, but it wasn't until Orton struck out on his own that he met with any success. His first play, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, opened in London in 1964, described by Sir Terence Rattigan as the best first play he'd seen in thirty-odd years. Orton's next play, Loot, debuted in Wimbledon in 1965, and though initially it was not a success, after major revisions, it attracted enthusiastic crowds and garnered several awards, including the Evening Standard award for Best Play. What the Butler Saw was Orton's last work, completed just a month before his notorious murder at the hands of his longtime partner, who had become depressed over and jealous of Orton's new success. His other works include The Ruffian on the Stair (originally a radio play), The Erpingham Camp, Funeral Games, The Good and Faithful Servant, a one-act television play, and the screenplay Up Against It, written for the Beatles.
What the Butler Saw is directed by Jim Covault, and features an outstanding cast. Stage West founder Jerry Russell will play Dr. Rance, while Dana Schultes, last on our stage as Annie in The Real Thing, will play the lubricious Mrs. Prentice. Making his Stage West debut as the lecherous Dr. Prentice is Patrick Bynane, most recently seen as David in the Amphibian Productions' First Day of School. Geraldine will be played by Katherine Bourne, also making a Stage West debut, most recently seen as Lulu in the recent Undermain production of The Birthday Party. The blackmailing Nick will be played by Garret Storms, applauded for his Stage West appearance as Spinoza in New Jerusalem. And appearing as Sgt. Match will be Dwight Greene, whose many Stage West roles include Nicola in this season's Arms and the Man.
The set will be designed by Jim Covault. Costume design will be again be handled by Michael Robinson and Dallas Costume Shoppe, who provided costumes for several Stage West shows, including our productions of The Real Thing, The Sports Page, New Jerusalem and Arms and the Man. Michael O'Brien will design the lighting, with set décor and props by Lynn Lovett.
What the Butler Saw will preview Thursday, July 5 (note: the original dates for this show were pushed back a week by the extension of the popular Red Hot Patriot) at 7:30 and Friday, July 6 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, August 5. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, July 7.
Ticket prices range from $26 to $30, with discounts for students and seniors. Pay What You Can performances will be Sunday, July 8 and Thursday, July 12. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary), and all Friday nights after July 6 will feature the $35 Prix Fixe Special. Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.
Note: this play includes adult subject matter, gunfire, and characters in their underwear.