Butley (play)

Butley (Play)

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Butley (play)

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Butley is a play by Simon Gray set in the office of an English lecturer at a university in London. The title character, a T. S. Eliot scholar, is an alcoholic who loses his wife and male lover on the same day. The action of the dark comedy takes place over several hours on the same day during which he bullies students, friends, and colleagues while falling apart at the seams. The play won the 1971 Evening Standard Award for Best Play.


  • Ben Butley
  • Joseph Keyston
  • Miss Heasman
  • Edna Shaft
  • Anne Butley
  • Reg Nuttall
  • Mr Gardner


Butley was first performed at the Criterion Theatre in London on 14 July 1971, produced by Michael Codron and directed by Harold Pinter, with the following cast:

Alan Bates won the 1971 Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for his performance. The role of Butley was subsequently taken on by Alec McCowen and Richard Briers in the same production. Bates reprised his performance the following year in a Broadway production directed by James Hammerstein at the Morosco Theatre, where it ran for 14 previews and 135 performances. Bates won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance, and Gray was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

A 2006 limited-run Broadway...
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