By Gabrielle Peearanda
Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Theatre and New Dance premiered its final production of the season, a play entitled “What the Butler Saw,” at the University Theatre on Friday.
Dr. Prentice, played by Anthony Rutowicz, is a goofy and sexually deprived psychiatrist who attempts to seduce Miss Geraldine Barclay during her interview for a secretarial position at his clinic.
After the characters exchange witty remarks and a few unnoticed sexual advances from Dr. Prentice, the very unprofessional doctor convinces Miss Barclay to remove her clothes for an examination.
Ashley Tripp’s character, Geraldine Barclay, is removing the last of her garments just as Mrs. Prentice enters the clinic, obviously distraught over an incident that occurred with Nicholas Beckett, a bellboy at the Station Hotel.
Attempting to appease Nick, who claims to have photos of their sexual encounter, Prentice promises him the secretary job at the clinic.
As Mrs. Prentice complains of her missing items and alleged sexual assault, Prentice struggles to hide the innocent yet naked Geraldine Barclay from his wife.
Suddenly, thunder booms overhead. Dr. Rance, a government agent responsible for inspection of mental health facilities, enters the clinic. We soon learn that Dr. Rance, played by Dylan Parra, is not only completely unqualified to judge the state of mental institutions, but that he probably belongs in a mental institution himself.
Later Caitlin Paige Dalessio’s character, Sergeant Match storms into the clinic looking for a historical artifact that Geraldine was known to have.
Although Match is tough and determined to get to the bottom of the shady business happening at the clinic, she somehow gets mangled up in the mess of Dr. Prentice’s office. Dr. Prentice even convinced her to remove her clothes for examination.
Essential to the play is the clothes-swapping that occurs as characters are frequently convinced to disrobe and the identity problems that ensue. By the end of the play, it is difficult to remember which character started off with which article of clothing, but that element was crucial in not only providing humor in the play, but also commenting on sexuality and gender.
The outrageous beginning sets the tone for the rest of the play, ultimately resulting in the confusion between who is sane, who is not and who is actually credible enough to say who is what.
As the farce progresses, no one is safe from Dr. Rance’s mental evaluations. Half the cast ends up in their bare skivvies, and all the characters running around the clinic for reasons seemingly unapparent even to them.
“What the Butler Saw” is a bold production and required actors bold enough to deliver, which they did.
Dresses are thrown about, mad doctors run amuck, and shrieks of terror are frequently heard. The best word to describe the production is “wild.”
Mark Valdez’s direction of the play written by Joe Orton is witty and vulgar in all the right places. “What the Butler Saw” will leave you asking, “Wait, what just happened?” and “Is he really holding that!?”
Michael Torres/The Poly Post
CPP Theater presents “What the Butler Saw”
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