2023/2024 — Season 68
Joe Orton

What the Butler Saw

Directed by: Vito Taufer
Première: 23. 9. 2021
  • Translation: Alja Predan
  • Text adaptation, dramaturgy and music: Mate Matišić
  • Set and costume design: Barbara Stupica
  • Stage movement design: Sebastjan Starič
  • Language consultant: Mateja Dermelj
  • Lighting design: Pascal Mérat
  • Sound design: Silvo Zupančič
  • Projection: Dušan Ojdanič, Sven Horvat
  • Fotografije na projekciji: Tadej Čaušević
  • Make-up artist: Nathalie Horvat
  • Assistant director: Mitja Lovše
  • Set designer assistant: Iris Čeh
  • Costume design assistant: Slavica Janošević
  • Stage manager: Urša Červ, Liam Hlede



DR. RANCE: As a transvestite, fetishist, bi-sexual murderer Dr Prentice displays considerable deviation overlap. We may get necrophilia too. […] the final chapters of my book are knitting together: incest, buggery, outrageous women and strange love-cults catering for depraved appetites. All the fashionable bric-a-brac.

The passage above perfectly summarises the prediction for Orton’s play and director Vito Taufer’s performance. The literal and satirical dressing and undressing unfold a narrative network that links all other characters to incest as a ‘happy ending’. Orton’s narrative mode encompasses a convincing improbability that both the reader and the viewer accept and that relates, as a perfectly logical continuation, to the unbelievable beliefs and opinions, which define the main characters. But the very same characters have no difficulty in resolutely renouncing their beliefs in every moment of the play. It seems as if the author wants to tell us that the first symptoms of non-existence are an unwavering belief and personality, i.e. the moment we define ourselves, we relinquish a multitude of possible personalities.

In the media

The foreground of this tragicomedy are, says the director, solitary lonesome characters, each locked in her or his mask, her or his fear of others. Their masks slowly disintegrate into something unrecognisable, unrecognisable to them as well. The realisation of this transformation is extremely efficient. The ensemble acts with careful consideration, which they turn to details in each individual moment, as well as throughout the entire production, and also to the development of the activity as a whole. If in the beginning there were starting points present to establish some sort of normalcy, in the end any attempt to organise human relationships in a sensible manner turns out to be completely infeasible, and the characters, although they physically lie still, disintegrate in their substance, they get depersonalised. Only a black cloud of the new authority remains, which makes any comedy fade away.

For the production to go all out in disclosing the images of anarchic, impulsive subconsciousness, its creators serve us, gradually – beginning with the scene of doctor’s unsuccessful attempt to seduce his secretary […], which is still rooted in the drama approach, through the increasingly more phantasmal conflicts – a more and more chaotic situational comedy, full of surprises, unexpected intrusions, twists and quick plays of identity changes, thus making it clear that the engine of What the Butler Saw is predominantly realised in another trait of Orton’s drama: in its situational and character comedy, so it has difficulties balancing the light-hearted entertainment and satirical social criticism.

Press downloads