The action of the play enfolds over the course of one day in one office and sees the culmination of lecturer Ben Butley’s destructive behaviour as those closest to him finally say, in their own way, enough. Once a charismatic tutor and an authority on TS Eliot, he now sharpens his mind on his unfortunate colleagues while trying to evade his more persistent students. Mischievous irony and gleeful trouble-making all feature in his arsenal; but inevitably they prove to be the weapons of his own tragic self-destruction.
Following the production we were joined by the whole cast, as well as director Lindsay Posner for a thought-provoking Q&A, hosted by our own chief critic Michael Coveney. A complex play which deals in attitudes to women and homosexuality as well as the psychology of self-destruction and peppered with literary references ranging from the high-brow to the mundane there was lots for us to discuss.
West told us about preparing for the part and Posner about his rediscovery of the piece. The whole cast then joined in as the audience asked questions ranging from the relevance of the piece today to the reasons behind Gray’s literary choices and whether or not we can call Butley’s “a happy ending”.
To listen to the full recording of the Q&A, click the 'play' button below; or to subscribe and download from iTunes, click here.