What the Butler Saw
Just when Joe Orton finished his text What the Butler Saw, the Leicester Mercury newspaper said: “There is no doubt that Mr Orton has a very special skill of being able to write for the theatre. It is, therefore, a great pity that it should be utilised in erecting a structure of comedy whose foundations are composed of nymphomania, vicious brutality, murder and illicit sex.” By choosing such topics and treating them disrespectfully, the British playwright shattered the theatre of that region in the 1960s, only to enter not only literary encyclopaedias, but also dictionaries: namely, the adjective Ortonesque in contemporary English denotes a dark, unconventional, farcical humour, with which he had marked his dramas. To think that he has left such a trace with only three full length comedies he managed to finish before his early death, and a few one-act plays, his achievement is all the more impressive. In the period of the #metoo movement and political correctness, his plays are even gaining other forms of edginess, as well as a subversive undertone. Vito Taufer will tackle the drama What the Butler Saw, in which Orton depicts rape and ridicules the society justifying it or minimalizing it, by emphasizing the chaotic, anarchic, “mad” streaks controlling our subconscious and dreams, and will firmly place the British text from the 1960s into our here and now.