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What the Butler Saw. Joe Orton is one of those working-class bad-boy authors that the British middle class so enjoys being poked in the eye by. In this play, he marries a proclivity for violence and the macabre with anti-establishment humor, satyriasis and the conventional tropes of farce — though he uses the latter in a mocking and self-referential way. While much of its mockery of religion, psychiatry and the engines of the state — not to mention Sir Winston Churchill — has lost its power to shock modern theater-goers, the playwright's lighthearted and lascivious treatment of rape and wife battery is very much out of tune with our times. Still, the play is fast-paced, surreal, illogically logical and cleverly constructed so that every insane act or comment comes together in some way by the end. Orton is telling us that all of England is a madhouse, and that his characters are really no crazier than a world the rest of us perceive as normal. Although the cast hadn't found its rhythm by opening night, black farce is something Germinal Stage usually does extremely well, and this production will no doubt find its inner lunatic before the run is over. Presented by Germinal Stage Denver through July 8, 2450 West 44th Avenue, 303-455-7108, Reviewed June 14.

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