Theatre Review: Who’s in Bed with the Butler?

The Rep’s latest production is a wonderful farce with plenty of slapstick.

Presented by: Adelaide Repertory Theatre
Reviewed: 13 April, 2023

Written by Michael Parker, in the traditional style of farce the script is predictable with stock characters. But for the most part a practiced cast delivers the laughs the audience expects. The set didn’t really look like a mansion but it worked well with all the necessary entrances and quick exits. Director Warren McKenzie has collected a mostly experienced group to handle the double-takes and slapstick.

Patrick Clements works well as the amorous butler Clifton, delivering the cliched lines with ease and convincingly handling the various women in his life. Laura Antonazzi does a great job as Susie who becomes his reluctant and then willing assistant aiding his duping of the women who flock to him.

The butler worked for a wealthy man who has died and left his estate to his daughter, or so she thinks until she discovers the additional bequests he made to others, strangely the women who adore Clifton. Maxine Grubel uses all her considerable experience playing Connie, the daughter, making her believable. Connie is accompanied by her solicitor Vance, Stephen Bills, he makes a great straight man, and Davis, an investigator, Josh Van’t Padje, whose many encounters with the doors were pure slapstick and delighted the audience.

Clifton’s many ladies are played by Kayla Cranfield, (the very English Josephone), Anita Pipprell (the French siren) and Jessica McGaffin (the Texan), each bringing a different style of seduction to the beleaguered butler and using various methods of dress and undress to achieve their aims. Finally, Clifton’s life is blighted by Agnes, the maid. Agnes is deaf and refuses to turn her hearing aid on (to save the batteries) and keeps a pet rat called Oscar, the cause of much hilarity. Agnes is played with wonderful insight by Julie Quick, who keeps the laughs coming.

The crew did a good job with all the hearing aid cues and the sound and lighting in general, good support all round. If you enjoy a farce with plenty of slapstick, this one’s for you!

Reviewed by Fran Edwards

Venue: Arts Theatre
Season: Until 22 April, 2023
Tickets: From $22.00

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