Hidden deep in the mountains of Gaviota and far up winding Refugio Road, Circle Bar B Ranch Theatre presents Michael Parker’s Who’s in Bed with the Butler? Directed by Jim Sirianni, this Butler sets high standards for the genre of American farce. For example, at one point, Roy Vance (Alfred St. John Smith) expresses something like the heart of the play’s brand of humor by exclaiming, “He smells like a Spanish pimp!”
The Circle Bar B experience begins well before the actual show. The audience lines up for dinner and is seated at red picnic tables, plates brimming with deliciously rustic BBQ tri-tip, green beans accompanied by sun-dried tomatoes, and crisp garlic bread. An hour later a cowbell rings, and theater producer Susie Couch calls everyone to their seats by name.
What comes next is, in this case, a wild ride. Who’s in Bed with the Butler? employs the farcical tools of miscommunication and willful confusion to their fullest extent. The butler, Clifton (Sean O’Shea), hires actress Susie Legere (Deborah Bertling) as his wife and his maid to help him deal with the will and the three mistresses of his deceased master, Mr. Olden. Daughter Constance Olden (Kathy Marden) comes to reclaim the assets that her father’s will grants to his three mistresses: the British Josephine Sykes, the French Renee LaFleur, and the Californian Marjorie Merivale-all fabulously played by one actress, Jenna Scanlon. However, before Ms. Olden can demand possession of her father’s assets, the actual assets must be found. Thus, attorney Roy Vance and investigator William Davis Jr. (Rodney Baker) are hired to uncover the mysteriously lost yacht, art, and car collection and to pay off the three mistresses. Among bawdy jokes, chaotic misinterpretation, and frequent unconsciousness, Clifton the butler turns out to be the owner of the Bimbo Corporation, to which all the assets were sold, the three mistresses turn out also to be the butler’s, and a rat named Oscar belonging to the Oldens’ deaf housekeeper, Agnes (Jean Hall), becomes the culprit.
Who’s in Bed with the Butler? is a hilarious success, cast with extremely talented actors who are both apt with their facial expressions and able to engage the audience with their clever remarks. Even if you are not sure that you are a fan of farce, visit the Circle Bar B Ranch and give this smashing Butler a chance.