The Arts

Soulpepper 2010 – Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw

Soulpepper 2010 – Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Performing farces is very difficult. As the absurdities mount, the pace has to be frenetic, and even then, speed does not necessarily guarantee success. Such is the case with Soulpepper’s production of Joe Orton’s satire What the Butler Saw.

Given the director and cast, the play should be a slam dunk. You have director Jim Warren, a man who understands clowning and timing. And then there are language experts Blair Williams and Nicole Underhay, late of the Shaw Festival, plus seasoned actors Graham Harley, Brenda Robins, Brandon McGibbon and Oliver Dennis.

So what’s the problem? The show seems laboured, and a significant number of people did not return after intermission. You can’t have farces that are sluggish, but this director and cast can’t find the ensemble rhythm.

It is only the last 10 minutes or so that the play catches fire, but it is too little, too late.

What the Butler Saw continues at the Young Centre until Sept. 18.

What the Butler Saw
Written by Joe Orton
Directed by Jim Warren
Performed by Blair Williams, Graham Harley, Brenda Robins, Nicole Underhay, Brandon McGibbon and Oliver Dennis
Young Centre, Aug. 19 to Sept. 18, 2010

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