Preview: Butley, by Simon Gray, Brighton Theatre Royal, May 25-28

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DOMINIC West (pictured), who played Jimmy McNulty in cult American TV show The Wire, will be appearing as Ben Butley, in what promises to be a razor sharp and darkly comic assault on academic life.

Ben is having a monumentally bad day.

So bad, he is making sure everyone else has a worse one.

His estranged wife has taken up with the most boring man in London, his beloved protege has found a new benefactor and even the English department’s resident failure has a book deal.

His mischievous trouble making and gleeful irony have never failed him yet - or will they contribute to his own self destruction?

Harold Pinter famously directed this play in 1971 and said: “I found its savage, lacerating wit hard to beat and accepted the invitation.

“The extraordinary thing about Butley, it still seems to me, is that the play gives us a character who hurls himself towards the destruction while living, in the fever of his intellectual hell, with a vitality and brilliance known to few of us.

“He courts death by remaining ruthlessly – even dementedly – alive. It’s a remarkable creation.”

Butley also stars Paul McGann (Withnail and I, Doctor Who) and Penny Downie (RSC’s Hamlet, Invictus).

The play will transfer to the West End after it finishes its run at Brighton Festival, so for once we’ll get the jump on the capital.

Tickets cost from £24 to £33 from www.ambassadortickets.com/brighton.