Butley is a play first penned by Simon Gray in 1971, but even in 2011 it still stands up well to the test of time. Ben Butley is an alcoholic English University lecturer with problems - his marriage is on the line and his friend and protégé is leaving him, he longs for companionship, but puts every down with vile criticism when they show him any interest.
The story of Ben Butley is certainly one of the black comedy variety and the audience is taken on a rollercoaster ride as Butley plummets into an emotional abyss. Butley hates his students and despises his colleagues, so they all fall foul of his mischievous scheme and vile wit.
Dominic West, well-known for his role as Detective James McNulty in The Wire, takes on the part of Ben Butley with gusto, delivering sharp one-liners with wicked merriment. His style of acting adds a new edge to Gray’s original character. The audience will have a love/hate relationship with the Butley character and in all likelihood will leave the theatre feeling doubtful whether he’ll ever get his life in order.
The supporting actors play their roles superbly, adding to the comic genius of Gray’s original masterpiece. Today’s audiences are in for a feast of esoteric humour which Harold Pinter first described as being hooked by ‘its savage lacerating wit’. A great night out for students, academics and all theatre lovers alike.
Published: 21/06/2011 15:05:26