The reversal of roles in What the Butler Saw – which sees four of the main characters out of six being played by the opposite sex, chief among these prominent and respected psychiatrist Dr Prentice (played by Ariadne Sgouros) is a homage to writer Joe Orton and Queer theatre in general. The characters remain true to their original form – Ariadne sports a Hitler like mustache and her new secretary is a delicate young thing (Martin Quinn) bewildered by the shenanigans of the doctor’s rooms. Director Damielle Maas works to subvert our perceptions with this production, Orton’s dialogue offers scathing commentary to challenge the status quo.

A slow-ish start to the long first act is redeemed by a much faster pace in the last act, when all of the threads of the story are eventually woven together. Standout performances by Ariadne Sgouras as Dr Prentice and Amrik Tumber as Dr Rance provoked laughter as the two were at cross-purposes for most of the play but eventually the story climaxes to everyone’s satisfaction, however unlikely the plot is.

Yes, it is cathartic to laugh at institutions and attitudes that we deem unenlightened and old school but the said laughs need to be bigger and better in 2018 than they were in 1967. Also men in dresses and moustachioed women is just not going to cut it as subversive these days. Orton’s work is not at all dusty or outdated as director Danielle Maas points out, still subversive is as subversive does, and men in frocks still looks too much like an extended Benny Hill skit to me to be taken seriously as a study on gender identity.

What the Butler Saw is on until 3 November, for more information and tickets see: https://newtheatre.org.au/what-the-butler-saw/

Directed by Danielle Mass

Featuring: Ariadne Sgouros, Martin Quinn, Jake Fryer-Horsby, Madeleine Carr, Amrik Tumber and Andrew Guy.

This Month in Sydney

18 Oct - 4 Nov
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Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, returning to the spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk from 18 October – 4 November.

The iconic exhibition will see the coastline transformed into a two kilometre long sculpture park over three weeks featuring 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.

Aqualand proudly returns for its third year as Principal Sponsor, along with the prestigious Aqualand Sculpture Award, which has increased to AUD70,000 in 2018 and will be awarded to an exhibiting artist whose sculpture will be gifted for permanent public enjoyment in Sydney.

In 2017, Aqualand’s sponsorship was renewed for an additional five years and is the most significant in the exhibition’s history, continuing to support the growth of the iconic Bondi exhibition.

As one of Sydney’s most beloved and photographed events, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi attracts over 500,000 visitors over the course of 18 days and signals the beginning of summer in Sydney.