Butley – Play Review

18 Aug

So as I mentioned on twitter I got tickets to see Butley at the Duchess for the low low price of £12.50! And they were stalls! Butley stars Dominic West (British actor most known for his role on The Wire) in a revival of the 1971 play directed by Harold Pinter himself. Pinter said in 1971 that Simon Gray’s comedy was ‘A remarkable creation’.


Ben Butley is a teacher who has definitely had the worst start to the term. He successfully manages to take out his anger on everybody else around him. The play is set over one day and during this day he finds out that his estranged wife is leaving him for who he claims to be the most boring man in London. To add to his troubles his male friend (lover) and protege is also leaving him. The result of all this is a funny, witty, cringing, dark show that will leave you very satisfied.

The moment West walks on stage you know how his performance goes. He plays his role with a flamboyance that works perfectly for the comedy aspect of this bitter, twisted man who is highly resentful but is darn funny. His chemistry with his costar Martin Huston is fabulous and Huston does a great job of Butley’s colleague who is gay himself and Butley mercilessly mocks him of his new lover. The two work together very well both in the comic first act and in the more emotionally involving second act.

The rest of the cast deliver to a fine standard and all roles are very entertaining. The staging is simply wonderful with a well done bookcase on stage right and the desk layout is done very well. The most odd thing about the play is that it all takes place around a time space of five hours and I remembered this half way through because you’re sucked into the mind of the bitter Ben Butley very well.

The show is in for another week and Thursday matinee tickets are only £12.50. Even if you can’t go to the cheaper session, the show is worth a standard ticket price of £20 upwards to around £35. You can really see why Pinter called it a remarkable creation.

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