A: Simon Gray Pf: 1971, London Pb: 1971 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Lecturer's study, college of London University, c.1970 C: 4m, 3f, extrasBen Butley is a lazy, untidy, disorganized, but witty university lecturer in English, who has broken up with his wife Anne. He now lives with Joey, a former star pupil appointed assistant lecturer, who shares Ben's study. Joey is just back from a half-term break with his friend Reg, a publisher, and Ben is showing signs of jealousy. Anne is intending to marry another of Ben's pupils, a teacher called Tom, ‘the most boring man in London’. Reg arrives in search of Joey and tells Ben that Joey is moving in with him. Ben is so rude about Reg's northern background that Reg eventually punches him. Joey moves out into a study vacated by a colleague who has resigned, in part from Ben's undermining of her position. Gardner, a student, comes for a tutorial, and, as with Joey, Ben begins to seduce him, getting him to read T. S. Eliot, but suddenly Ben, disillusioned and alone, sends him away: ‘I'm too old to play with the likes of you.’
A: Simon Gray Pf: 1971, London Pb: 1971 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Lecturer's study, college of London University, c.1970 C: 4m, 3f, extras
Canadian-born Simon Gray based Butley on his experiences teaching English at Queen Mary's College, London. Concentrated in one location and one day, Butley successfully creates a protagonist who is thoroughly irresponsible and unpleasant, but whose wit and delightfully maverick attitude to academic discipline wins the audience's sympathy with his ambivalent charm.