What the Butler Saw, Hampstead Theatre, London

The shock of the old
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The Independent Culture

There are moments, too, when you can still appreciate that Orton's frisky, in-your-face humour was considered very risqué at the time. Indeed, a handful of lines get startled laughs because Orton, naturally, didn't give a hoot about being politically correct. Thus the naïve secretary, Miss Barclay, talks of Prentice attempting to rape her, only to be brushed off by his wife's riposte: "Yes, he can't wait for anything." Mostly, however, this piece has lost its power to shock.

I find it hard to get very excited about a wanton bellboy disguised in a mini-dress and a load more cross-dressing. Still, Orton manages the escalating confusion with panache and combines cheap gags with great surreal flourishes of Wildean eloquence. Grindley's period production is typically fine-tuned and perfectly paced, except for a self-conscious performance from Geoff Breton as the bellboy. Belinda Lang and Jonathan Coy as the Prentices and Malcolm Sinclair as Rance are on splendid comic form, with an air of terse respectability which they never let drop even as the underwear starts flying.

To 20 August, 020 7722 9301