sun 16/06/2019

Butley, Duchess Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

Butley, Duchess Theatre

Butley, Duchess Theatre

Dominic West is biliously brilliant in Simon Gray's comedy

Ego in academia: Dominic West and Martin HutsonTristram Kenton

Ben Butley is poisonous, spiteful, a bully, a sadist and a snob. So how does Simon Gray, who created his titular anti-hero in 1971, ensure that an audience can endure his company? He equips him with the kind of lacerating verbal dexterity that makes you catch your breath, appalled and a little awed all at once. And in Lindsay Posner’s fine revival, this nasty, sad, desperate piece of work who, as a lecturer in a London university English department, gets plenty of opportunity to inflict his wit on the soft young sensibilities of eager undergraduates, is played with bilious aplomb by Dominic West. You dislike him, often violently; but you can’t tear your eyes away from him.

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