First staged in London and directed by Harold Pinter, Butley presents a full-bodied character study of a brilliant soul in crisis. Dissipated, boozing university professor and terminal cynic, Ben Butley is facing both the breakup of his marriage and the dissolution of a longtime affair with Joey, once his student now a fellow faculty member. When he runs aground of the petty University heirachy, Butley’s ultimate fate is sealed. Alan Bates and Nathan Lane both assayed the title role to great acclaim.
‘What is so wondrous about a play so basically defeatist and hurtful is its ability to be funny. The stark, unsentimental approach to the homosexual relationship, the cynical send-up of academic life, the skeptical view of the teacher-pupil associations are all stunningly illuminated by continuous explosions of sardonic, needling, feline, vituperative and civilised lines‘ – Evening Standard