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Curve announces full casting for Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw, directed by Curve Artistic Director Nikolai Foster and presented to mark 50 years since the iconic Leicester playwright’s death.
Dr. Prentice (Rufus Hound – NT’s One Man, Two Guvnors, RSC’s Don Quixote, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), a psychiatric doctor in an private clinic, is attempting to interview (and seduce) a would-be secretary, Geraldine (Dakota Blue Richards – The Golden Compass, ITV’s Endeavor, Arcadia and Stella in Curve’s A Streetcar Named Desire). Unwittingly surprised by his wife (Catherine Russell – Holby City, Bridget Jones -The Edge of Reason, Curve’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), he hides the girl. The affairs multiply as Mrs. Prentice is seduced and blackmailed by young bellhop Nicholas Beckett (Jack Holden – RSC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oppenheimer and The Shoemaker’s Holiday), and promises him the secretarial post. When a government inspector arrives (Jasper Britton The Libertine, RSC’s Richard II, The Jew of Malta and Henry IV Part 1 and II and The Taming of the Shrew), closely followed by Sergeant Match (Ravi Aujla), who is in search of missing parts of Winston Churchill, chaos, mistaken identities and cross-dressing lead the charge.
What the Butler Saw appalled and enraged certain audiences with its blatant sexual overtones, attacks on authority and conventional morality via its invitation to view other people’s sexuality and sexual identity from the position of voyeur. However, most critics regard it as Orton’s finest play, considered today as a contemporary classic. The London premiere at the Queen’s Theatre in 1969 starred Coral Browne and Sir Ralph Richardson.
Curve Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said in a joint statement:
“Joe Orton’s view of the world was utterly unique and his perspectives revelatory and provocative. What the Butler Saw’s explosive exposé of the Establishment feels more relevant than ever. In the 50th anniversary year since his death, we are thrilled to present Orton’s magnificent comedy in our 900 seat theatre. Alongside the Theatre Royal Bath team, we are proud to welcome this outstanding production team and company of actors to Curve.”
Orton’s final play, What the Butler Saw was completed just a month before his death and never seen by Orton himself. A trail-blazing iconoclast, whose influence on British theatre is still felt today, Curve’s staging of his masterpiece joins other events in Leicester to mark 50 years since Orton’s death. These include What The Artist Saw, an exhibition of new art inspired by the life and work of Joe, presented at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester from the 29 July to 22 October. Also, an exhibition of documents, photographs and annotated scripts from the University of Leicester’s Orton Archive will be exhibited at Curve through the production, as well as an Orton symposium at the University of Leicester on the 9 August.