What the Butler Saw Opens at Mark Taper Forum

Nov 13, 2014
What the Butler Saw

Award-winning British playwright Joe Orton's riotous farce "What the Butler Saw" begins previews tonight, November 12, 2014, at 8 p.m. at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum. Opening is set for November 23 and performances continue through December 21.

The acclaimed cast includes Frances Barber (Ophelia in "Hamlet" and Marguerite in "Camille" at Royal Shakespeare Company), Sarah Manton (Broadway's "One Man, Two Guvnors"), Angus McEwan ("The Duchess"), Rod McLachlan (Broadway's "Holiday," "The Government Inspector" and "Our Town"), Charles Shaughnessy (best known for CBS' "The Nanny") and Paxton Whitehead (Broadway's "Importance of Being Earnest," "My Fair Lady" and "Noises Off").

"What the Butler Saw" is directed by farce veteran and Orton expert John Tillinger, who previously directed the Orton plays "Loot" and "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" in repertory at the Taper (1987). Set design is by James Noone, costume design is by Laurie Churba Kohn, lighting design is by Ken Billington and John McKernon, sound design is by John Gromada, wigs and hair are by Carol F. Doran, casting is by Mark B. Simon, CSA, and the production stage manager is David S. Franklin.

Set in the consulting room of a private psychiatric clinic, the action begins when the very proper Dr. Prentice (played by Shaughnessy) is interrupted by his wife (Barber) just as he is about to seduce a beautiful, young woman who is applying for a job as a secretary (Manton). As his botched efforts to conceal his actions spiral outrageously out of control, Orton ferociously skewers psychiatry, religion, marriage, morality, government and definitions of gender.