In Sean Graney’s production of Joe Orton’s classic farce “What the Butler Saw, ” a character explains that she once worked as a chambermaid “as a joke on the middle class. They didn’t get the irony.” Her line could speak for the play itself, because Orton’s subtle (and not-so-subtle) criticism of dominant societal attitudes toward sexuality is often occluded by the utterly enrapturing spectacle of the show itself. As the pristine modernist set of a London psychiatrist’s office devolves into a chaotic mess of undressing, cross-dressing, blood and endless Freudian clichés, it’s easy to forget that the sexual taboos that Orton constantly breaches would have been much more shocking in the mid 1960s. These days, though, it’s pure hilarity and mirth. The actors, with the perfect timing required of farce, maneuver through an endless flow of psychiatry clichés and slapstick situation comedy, as well as Winston Churchill’s phallus, stuffed-cat fetishes and policemen dispensing lollipops, in an extremely clever, beautifully stylized and utterly hammed-up performance. (Monica Westin)
At Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, (773)753-4472. This production is now closed.