Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Nov 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Slam Poetry

ae theatreOrton’s crazed spirit lives in JTC’s hilarious ‘What the Butler Saw’

Spoiler alert: there is no butler in What the Butler Saw. But there’s plenty to see and enjoy in Joe Orton’s scabrously funny 1967 comedy, as performed by the Jewel Theatre Company. This production concludes JTC’s ninth season with a bang, literally: it’s a slamming-door farce in which the set’s four doors repeatedly slam, identities are mistaken, switched, disguised and deconstructed, thwarted sexuality drives the plot, and anarchy runs riot over all. In other words, business as usual for Orton, the working-class Brit whose subversively witty comedies blazed across the London theatre scene during his brief mid-’60s career.

One of the great things about this production is it doesn’t feel dated at all. Yes, it’s rooted in the ‘60s, from the British Invasion soundtrack that greets audiences on the way to their seats, to B. Modern’s mod-influenced costumes. But Orton’s comic style is timeless; his tweaking of authority and cheeky disdain for hallowed traditions and bourgeois propriety would be equally at home on a 16th-Century Commedia dell’arte stage or last night’s cable TV comedy series. And the excellent JTC team mines the material for every possible laugh.

What the Butler Saw continues JTC’s fertile association with Shakespeare Santa Cruz alumni. Director Art Manke (whose credits include the wonderful Bach At Leipzig and The Three Musketeers for SSC) stages the piece with verve and clarity; even as the farcical elements ramp up, nothing onstage feels rushed or chaotic. And the inimitable Mike Ryan notches up another entertaining performance as Dr. Prentice, head of a tony private psychiatric clinic, whose aborted attempt to seduce his dewy new young secretary, Geraldine Barclay (a charming Audrey Rumsby), and his increasingly frazzled attempts to conceal this fact, especially from his virago wife (JTC Artistic Director Julie James), sow the seeds of mayhem in Orton’s frisky plot.

Also on board is the hilarious Danny Scheie as Dr. Rance, a civil servant visiting the clinic on behalf of the British government. As the principle representative of authority, it’s Dr. Rance’s function in the play to misinterpret evidence, misconstrue motives, and misdiagnose everyone else as a raving lunatic—and Scheie wrings the most out of every syllable of caustic observation and gleeful epiphany. His second act speech summing up perceived events in the most lurid possible terms is worth the price of admission all by itself.

When James’ imperious Mrs. Prentice bursts onto the scene, she has in tow one Nicholas Beckett (Josh Saleh), a sexy young working-class bellhop whom she failed to seduce the night before at a nearby hotel, but who nevertheless produces “pornographic photos” of their encounter which he hopes to trade for a better job. Beckett and Geraldine are the young innocents caught up in the crazed lies and schemes of their elders; they are the ones most often stripped down to their skivvies and forced to switch clothes and genders to suit the others’ frenzied plotting, and the stalwart Saleh and plucky Rumsby are delightful in the roles.

Rounding out the cast is a very funny Robert Sicular as a formidable London bobbie called Sergeant Match. As the other major authority figure, whose crisp uniform and demeanor suggest absolute control, he is, of course, doomed to the worst indignities, from cross-dressing to an accidental overdose of tranquilizers.

No amount of personal aplomb or official prestige can save you from random acts of lunacy in the Orton universe, and this production conveys Orton’s unfettered spirit in all its subversive glory.


The JTC production of What The Butler Saw plays through May 25 at Center Stage (1001 Center Street, SC). Call (831) 425-7506 or visit JewelTheatre.net for tickets and information.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Pop Life

The pop-up dining trend is freeing culinary imaginations and creating a guerilla version of event dining around Santa Cruz

 

Over Hills and Plains, Riding a White Horse, Bow and Arrows in Hand

Saturday, early morning, the sun enters and radiates the light of Sagittarius. Three hours later, the Sagittarius new moon (0.07 degrees) occurs. “Let food be sought,” is the personality-building keynote. “Food” means experiences; all kinds, levels and types. It also means real food. Sag’s secret is their love of food. Many, if not musicians, are chefs. Some are both. The energies shift from Scorpio’s deep and transformative waters to the “hills and plains of Sagittarius.” Sag is the rider on a white horse, eyes focused on the mountain peaks of Capricorn (Initiation) ahead. Like Scorpio, Sagittarius is also the “disciple.” Adventure, luck, optimism, joy and the beginnings of gratitude are the hallmarks of Sagittarius. Sag is also one of the signs of silence. The battle lines were drawn in Libra and we were asked to choose where we stood. The Nine Tests were given in Scorpio and we emerged “warriors triumphant.” Now in Sag, we are to be the One-Pointed Disciple, riding over the plains on a white horse, bow and arrows in hand, eyes focused on the Path of Return ahead. Sagittarians are one-pointed (symbol of the arrow). Sag asks, “What is my life’s purpose?” This is their quest, from valleys, plains, meadows and hills, eyes aimed always at the mountaintop. Sag emerges from Scorpio’s deep waters, conflict and tests into the open air. Sag’s quest is humanity’s quest. Sag’s quest, however, is always accompanied by music and good food.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of November 21

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pie Fidelity

A little Thanksgiving help, plus sip and shop locally at the Art, Wine and Gift Bazaar

 

What should be on everyone’s bucket list?

Hang gliding, because you're free as a bird. Jenni, Santa Cruz, Student/Administrative Assistant

 

Soquel Vineyards

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it’s time to be thinking about the wine you’re going to serve with that special dinner, be it turkey, ham, a roast, or something vegetarian or vegan.

 

The Kitchen

Chef Santos Majano talks beer-friendly food at Discretion Brewery