Theater at Monmouth: “What The Butler Saw” (REVIEW)

Posted on August 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

A few notes:

  • Theater at Monmouth now has a blog. The first post, “Made in Maine: Local Talent in TAM’s Summer Company” features discussions with actors Isabella Coulombe, Anna Doyle, and Michael Dix Thomas- all Maine natives. Check it out!
  • In celebration of TAM’s 45th season and the British Invasion theme, Gritty’s in Auburn has created “A Hard Day’s Pint”, an ale available through August with a portion of the proceeds going to support the theater.
  • The huge annual Silent Auction is going on now in Cumston Hall Library’s Reading Room; many items upon which to bid from area merchants and donors. The auction concludes August 21.

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Who knew a job interview could go so terribly, terribly wrong? Orton's What the Butler Saw is for mature audiences only! Call the box office at 933.9999 for tickets. — with Anna Doyle and James Noel Hoban. (from TAM's Facebook page)

Who knew a job interview could go so terribly, terribly wrong? Orton’s What the Butler Saw is for mature audiences only! Call the box office at 933.9999 for tickets. — with Anna Doyle and James Noel Hoban.
(from TAM’s Facebook page)

The infamous yet never identified “They” remark frequently that in regards to acting, “tragedy is easy; comedy is hard.” When one thinks about this old saying, it has some grains of truth- but what is perhaps an even harder task is making great comedy seem utterly effortless.

TAM’s opening night performance of Joe Orton’s “What The Butler Saw” does exactly that- they nailed it. From director Brian P. Allen’s notes:

    “I think ‘Butler’ lends itself well to TAM. Trust and familiarity among the cast are necessary in order to make the split-second timing of the show work. The six actors need to breathe as one, and while that isn’t always easy to accomplish in a short summer repertory rehearsal period, TAM’s resident company atmosphere generates the environment required to pull off such a delicious farce.”

Yup. What he said.

Set in a private London clinic circa early 1965, the play begins innocently enough- an established psychiatrist (Hoban) is interviewing a beautiful young woman (Doyle) for employment as his secretary.

Or so she thinks. It quickly becomes apparent that more lecherous intentions lurk in the doctor’s plans… but there is also an old cliche about the best laid plans… Cue the wife!

Who is quickly revealed to be not as innocent as SHE could be, either!

Cover ups, misunderstandings, government official and police investigations, costumes and quickly made-up excuses and stories start flying, faster and faster- by the perfectly timed suspenseful cliff-hanger moment of “A-HA!” discovery marking the break for intermission, one can barely breathe for the aching ribs. And immediately as the audience comes back in, the onstage madness picks right back up where they left off. When eventually everyone’s stories all sort out and the play concludes, tears of laughter are just rolling down one’s cheeks.

Oh, what fun!

Lewd, naughty, clever and definitely an “adult situation” sort of play- but omigosh, what a fantastic ride. To use a few more cliches, this was a grand slam- together, the team hit this one over the wall and out of the park.

Cast (in order of appearance)

Dr. Prentice: James Noel Hoban
Geraldine: Anna Doyle
Mrs. Prentice: Denise Cormier
Nicholas Beckett: Graham Emmons
Dr. Rance: Mark S. Cartier
Sergeant Match: Max Waszak

Production Team

Set Designer: Dan Bilodeau
Costume Designer: Kathleen P. Brown
Lighting Designer: Cecilia Durbin
Sound Designer: Rew Tippen
Stage Managers: Jeff Meyers, Melissa A. Nathan

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