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What the Butler Saw review at Octagon Bolton

Joe Orton’s classic farce sees a combination of all the elements associated with that format plus the bonus of his brilliantly observed script. It fairly bristles with a scything wit attacking the sacred cows of marriage, medical ethics, psychiatry, politics, religion and Winston Churchill.

The problem of playing farce on a thrust set is that the element of surprise, so necessary in this genre, is often lost unless the exits and entrances are swiftly executed. It is to the credit of Artistic Director, Mark Babych and his cast that they triumph over a slight, initial delay.

In designer Hannah Clark’s believable consulting area in a mental institution, we meet Martin Hyder who is the lecherous Dr Prentice and Katherine Dow Blyton who plays his nymphomaniac wife.

Karen Paullada is good as Geraldine, the innocent interviewee who ends up in a straight-jacket whilst Chris Grahamson is Nicholas, the page-boy with amorous intentions.

Although the cast work their socks and in several instances, their clothes off, the whole production is lifted several notches higher with a superb performance by Knight Mantell as the eccentric Dr Ranz, who speaks with the same clipped, beautifully enunciated tones as Ralph Richardson, who was in the original 1969 production. It is a performance of comic brilliance.

Although the shock factor of Orton’s work has slightly lost its impact over the years, the final result is of hilariously executed manic mayhem.

Production Information

Octagon, Bolton, October 26-November 18

Joe Orton
Mark Babych
Bolton Octagon
Cast includes
Knight Mantell, Martin Hyder, Karen Paullada, Katherine Dow Blyton
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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