Saturday, June 22, 2024

CULTURE | 17-05-2024 12:33

What didn’t the butler do?

Who’s in Bed with the Butler?; By Michael Parker; Directed by Sylveen Smith; The Surburban Players; The Playhouse, Moreno 80, San Isidro.

The original Suburban Players playhouse is located in the San Isidro street of Moreno but nobody could walk away from last weekend’s hilarious production of Who’s in Bed with the Butler? thinking: “More no,” quite the contrary.

Slickly directed by Sylveen Smith, this complex comedy of errors by Michael Parker unfolds without a hitch literally before the eyes of a packed audience in a cosy playhouse so tiny that even an elderly spectator as deaf as the housekeeper Agnes would have no acoustic problems.

The plot revolves around the will of a Californian billionaire William Holden who has bequeathed everything to his only daughter Constance except for a yacht, a priceless art collection and some antique automobiles (all multi-million in value) left to three fancy women (very fancy) who descend on the mansion, as does Constance plus lawyer who seek to buy them off or contest the will, only to find the coveted assets elusive. The missing heirlooms all seem to converge to that classic conclusion – the butler did it.

The cast of nine basically consists of three triangles constantly intersecting with hilarious effect, the home team (Agnes, the butler Clifton and the actress Susie whom he has hired to play his wife, ostensibly to ward off the three floozies) and two away teams – Constance and her allies (her legal beagle Mark Vance and the physically bungling and linguistically challenged detective William Evans) and the trio of bits on the side (Englishwoman Josephine Sykes, the very Gallic Renée Lafleur and Californian local Marjorie Merrivale).

There was no weak link in this cast. Nicolas Sansalone, impeccable as the butler Clifton, and Melanie Fuertes as the suitably arch actress Susie stood out as the central characters but the others all held their own. Romina Berti gave her wealthy heiress Constance all the fitting supercilious airs; Stanley D. Nash supplied the slapstick with numerous brave tumbles; Michael Fortino added the right serious note of contrast to this farce as the single-minded lawyer; Pamela Sandford expressed a sense of entitlement in the British imperialistic tradition as Josephine; Mecha Capurro was as 'Oh la la' as they come as Renée and Pat Gomez was a brash Marjorie. If the latter three were all on the mature side, that entirely befitted an aged billionaire. Not to forget Carola Durlach constantly bent double as the deaf Agnes with her pet rat Oscar.

Last performances this weekend with tickets on sale at Alternativa Teatral where you can also book the next Suburban Players production Murder on the Orient Express. This reviewer remains undecided whether he would prefer to see the railway carriage in the unique intimacy of the San Isidro playhouse (Moreno 80) or the more generous spaces of the British Arts Centre (Suipacha 1333), both options. But no doubts about the Suburban Players being better than ever since their beginnings in 1963.


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Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys, who first entered the Buenos Aires Herald in 1983, held various editorial posts at the newspaper from 1990 and was the lead writer of the publication’s editorials from 1987 until 2017.


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