Drawing: Butley at The Duchess Theatre


A summer’s day in London, and what better way to spend it than taking in a matinee of a West End play. Some may say there are better things to do on a summer’s day, but this is London and it was raining, (we had summer the weekend before). I chose the late Simon Grey’s dark comedy Butley at the Duchess. University lecturer, T.S.Eliot scholar and perpetual drunk Ben Butley is having a monumentally bad day, so bad, he’s making sure everyone else has a worse one. His trusty arsenal of mischievous irony and gleeful troublemaking prove to be the weapons of his own self-destruction. In the title role was the charismatic Dominic West, ably supported by a superb cast, Paul McGann, Amanda Drew, Martin Hutson, Penny Downie, Emma Huddleston and Cai Brigden. Last year I posted a couple of sketches  Dominic and Paul signed, but this black biro drawing included all seven cast members. It is,however, difficult to get stuff signed while inside the theatre watching the play, although I always think the best time to get everyone would be during the curtain call. Alas,not a plan shared by theatre management. Multiple cast can prove logistically difficult for obvious reasons, none more so than when they all leave at the same time it’s like trying to collect marbles rolling on a glass floor. The Duchess Theatre does have one thing going for the autograph aficionado, there’s only one entry and exit point, (as far as I know) to the left of the main doors and almost under cover, albeit under a leaking veranda. I had drawn this sketch earlier based on the promotional material adorning the theatre and managed to get it signed by all, either going in or coming out in  sig-friendly file. Even the late afternoon sun decided to shine on this successful summer’s saturday..momentarily.



Drawing: Paul McGann in Butley at Duchess Theatre

mcgann and west

Paul McGann starred alongside Dominic West in the revival of Simon Gray’s biting comedy Butley in the summer of 2011 at London’s Duchess Theatre after a gap of 40 years. Dominic took on the iconic title role of the boozing and abusing rapier-tongued uni lecturer Ben Butley, well-bent on self-destruction and Paul played Reg Nuttall, the eloquent, steely new to Yorkshire lover of Butley’s housemate Joey. The play premiered in 1971 in Harold Pinter’s award-winning production starring Alan Bates at the Criterion Theatre in London and was described as a ‘darkly comic assault on the soft underbelly of academia’.

Drawing: Dominic West in Butley at the Duchess Theatre

Dominic West

In December last year British actor Dominic West and Prince Harry were part of three teams competing to reach the South Pole first on the trek to raise money for the charity Walking with the Wounded. The competition part of the race was cancelled due to hazardous weather conditions, so the teams combined forces to successfully reach the pole.

He is nominated for a TV BAFTA for his role as Richard Burton in Burton & Taylor. Helena Bonham Carter, who played Elizabeth Taylor, is also nominated.

In June 2011 Dominic took the title role in Simon Gray’s classic comedy Butley at the Duchess Theatre in London. Dominic is always great with ‘graphers and was more than happy to sign this rapid 4b pencil sketch at the stage door on the way in for a July Saturday matinee performance which I saw.