Jane Asher and Michael Pennington will star in a new production of Joe Orton's classic farce, What the Butler Saw. The Theatre Royal Bath production opens in Bath on 18 June 2001 before continuing until 30 July to a further six venues. The comedy joins another star-studded Bath production on the road - Rodney Clark's The External, featuring Prunella Scales and Timothy West, tours until 2 June 2001, prior to an anticipated West End transfer.

What the Butler Saw - Orton's last and, many would say, funniest, play - was first produced in 1969, two years after the author's untimely death. It tells the story of Dr Prentice, a sex-obsessed psychiatrist whose attempts to seduce a secretary are frustrated by the arrival of his nymphomaniac wife, an over-enthusiastic inspector and a dim-witted policeman.

Jane Asher plays Mrs Prentice. Her many stage credits include The School for Scandal, Making It Better, Blithe Spirit, Treats, The Philanthropist, The Things We Do for Love and, most recently, Alan Ayckbourn's simultaneously performed comedies, House and Garden at the National. Asher's television and film credits include The Volunteer, Paris by Night, Runners, Deep End, Alfie, The Choir and Brideshead Revisited.

Michael Pennington, who plays Dr Prentice, is also a stage veteran. As co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company, he toured the world playing many leading Shakespearean roles. His recent West End credits include The Guardsman, Timon of Athens, An Ideal Husband, Gross Indecency, and the Peter Hall repertory season at the Piccadilly where he appeared in The Misanthrope, Major Barbara and Filumena. He last appeared at the Theatre Royal Bath in Ronald Harwood's Taking Sides.

What the Butler Saw is directed by Jeremy Sams and designed by Rob Jones, the creative team behind the National Theatre's hit revival of Michael Frayn's Noises Off, which opens in the West End next month following a regional tour.

After its run in Bath, What the Butler Saw continues to Richmond, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton and Milton Keynes.

- by Terri Paddock