One can only hope that the late Simon Gray’s students fared better than the

fictional ones assigned to tutorials with his alter ego, Ben Butley, in this

caustic 40 year old comedy.

Sharp of tongue, slovenly of dress, Butley’s

life is falling apart in a lazy miasma of whisky, cigarettes and fracturing

relationships sabotaged by his distorted notion of having “fun”.

In odd socks purloined from his gay protégé and housemate (Martin Hutson),

The Wire’s Dominic West’s rumpled, probably bi-sexual academic disparages

his colleagues, his estranged wife, homosexuals, the undergraduates he


You wouldn’t want to share your life with him, and the play shows its age.

But for a couple of hours or so, the deliberately offensive bluster of this

lonely, self-destructive man makes for watchable, if wordy, entertainment.


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– Louise Kingsley