What the Butler Saw Criticism

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The first performance of What the Butler Saw, on March 5, 1969, was a critical and commercial disaster. Members of the audience shouted at the actors, disrupting the performance. In his Orton biography Prick up Your Ears, critic John Lahr noted that "Shouts of 'Filth!', 'Rubbish!', 'Find another play!' bombarded the actors as they struggled bravely through the lines." Lahr also quoted actor Stanley Baxter, who played Dr. Prentice, on his experience with the audience on opening night:

At first I thought it was a drunk or someone mentally deranged. Then it became clear that it was militant hate that had been organized.... It was a battle royal.... The gallery wanted to jump on the stage and kill us all. The occasion had the exhilaration of a fight.

Barton also recalled "old ladies in the audience not merely tearing up their programmes, but jumping up and down...

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This section contains 1,122 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the What the Butler Saw Study Guide
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Drama for Students
What the Butler Saw from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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