Come See "What the Butler Saw"

BONNIE GOLDBERG

The summer season, with its excesses of heat and humidity, lends itself to a shedding of clothing for comfort and convenience. The Westport Country Playhouse surely subscribes to that prescription for coolness in its entertaining farce of an offering in “What the Butler Saw” by Joe Orton until Saturday, September 10. Being scantily clad, with even a streak of nudity, is clearly the order of the day.

When you go for a job interview, you expect to be questioned on your qualifications for the position, your prior work experience, a few references for validation, the standard inquisition. Geraldine Barclay, an innocent Sarah Manton, discovers early on that Dr. Prentice, an inventive Robert Stanton, has a far different method of determining her suitability for the job as his secretary. He asks her to undress for his personal, hands on, inspection. Thus starts the comic chaos that is let loose in this psychiatrist’s clinic.

Before he can properly “handle” the situation, the good doctor’s wife, a sex seeking Patricia Kalember, unexpectedly arrives...with her own set of sexual problems. She has been attacked by a bellhop at a hotel meeting and now said bellhop, Chris Ghaffari’s Nicholas Beckett, has incriminating photos just properly developed for blackmail. Tired of carrying luggage, Nick wants to be Dr. Prentice’s new secretary.

Add to the confusion an unannounced inspection by the government in the form of one Dr Rance by that superb actor of farces Paxton Whitehead who delights in all the myriad of phobias and symptoms of insanity that are flying from desk top to patient couch. Clothing and the lack of it, cross dressing and disguises, scandalous behavior, accusations of impropriety and general lunacy are the hallmarks of the day. By the time the police arrive, in the form of Sergeant Match, an easily confused Julian Gamble, all bets and outfits are off and lunacy reigns supreme.

Bizarre behavior, nervous breakdowns, strait jackets and missing parts of Winston Churchill are all inmates in the madhouse Orton has created, in his last play before his early and untimely death at 34. John Tillinger, who has directed more than a dozen farces at WCP to great acclaim, has done it again with “What the Butler Saw.”

For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Come laugh at the confusion that erupts as men dress as women and women dress as men and some don’t dress at all in this British take on morals and mores.

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