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What the Butler Saw

by Joe Orton

directed by Alan Patrick Kenny

Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

January-March 2012


Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s revival nails the savagery in Orton’s assault on the (literal) straitjacket of middle-class morality.  Director Alan Patrick Kenny recognizes the comedy’s darker purpose, shifting the tone to lurid nightmare at exactly the right moment. Standout characterizations are Troop’s damsel in undress, Melinda Parrett’s frustrated nymphomaniac, and Ciaran Joyce’s bawdy blackmailing bellhop.




What The Butler Saw, the infamous and inimitable Joe Orton’s 1969 screwball sex farce, [is] now being revived at the Odyssey Theater—and hilariously so—under the oh-so imaginative direction of Alan Patrick Kenny.


Director Kenny knows well that to have a successful farce, its staging must be fast and furious, and performed by a cast possessing flair, razor-sharp timing, and total commitment to the author’s intentions. Kenny’s staging is precisely what the doctor ordered, the entire Odyssey Theatre cast giving memorably over-the-top performances.


The Freud bust that doubles as an ice bucket atop a cabinet filled with whisky bottles (from which Dr. and Mrs. Prentice refill their drinks nonstop) is a standout bit of set decoration by prop designer Katherine S. Huntt. Bosco Flanagan’s lighting design and John Thompson’s sound design are indeed ingenious, and no more so than when director Kenny turns up the soap suds in the play’s final, pseudo-dramatic scenes.




I loved the standard opening announcement which was done in a British voice, “Enjoy the show my darlings.” Nice touch.


Alan Patrick Kenny’s direction is impeccable. He directs his ensemble cast of six very talented performers to perfection as they enter and exit through four doorways like entrances and exits on a freeway. All six of the actors maintain their “veddy” proper British accents and stylized characters. Their energy was incredible and it was a deliciously fun evening for the audience.


No one actor stood out. All six were so keenly tuned into each other and met the challenge of critically timed entrances and exits.




WHAT THE BUTLER SAW is Riotous at Odyssey Theatre! A terrifically energized cast make the play soar under the astute guidance of director Alan Patrick Kenny.


Audiences who get easily bored with the mundane will not do so as they watch Butler. There's one silly joke/embarrassing situation after another, and what is indeed remarkable is that the Orton insight into what makes a marriage work effectively or any organized chaos, for that matter, is so on target.


The entire ensemble is so marvelous that no one stands out over anyone else. Bravo to Geoffrey Wade, Jerry Della Salla, Ciaran Joyce, Melinda Parrett, Amanda Troop and John Walcutt! You all deserve a kiss, a hug and a medal for keeping up to the pace the show requires. Again, fact a double bravo, bravo! Let's add another: bravo, bravo, bravo!




What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton is one of the funniest, wackiest plays to be seen. Playing at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles and directed by Alan Patrick Kenny, it is farce unlimited. I can't point out any one of the actors in this play, as every one of them gives a smashing performance.




Photos by Mikki Schaffner

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