Review: Butley, starring Dominic West, Theatre Royal Brighton, Thursday May 26

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This wasn’t one of those plays where everything is sugar coated and the characters learn their lesson to go on and live a better life.

Instead almost all the characters seem to make bad decisions which you suspect will not work out well for them.

Heavy drinking English lecturer Ben Butley, played perfectly by Dominic West, skips maniacally down a path of self destruction, attempting to take everyone he knows with him.

He delivers thoroughly nasty but wickedly funny one liners at the staff in the department, their friends and his ex wife.

That is because Ben’s life is going downhill quicker than an avalanche careering down a mountain - and all in the course of a day.

He quips: “I’m a one-woman man, and I’ve had mine, thank God,” and on his ex wife again: “She was always succinct. Even with her knickers down.”

Since the collapse of his marriage Ben is back living with his beleaguered friend and colleague Joseph Keyston, portrayed wonderfully by Martin Hutson, yet he seems determined to ruin any friendships he has by bullying and demanding too much from people.

Joey’s ice cool and sinister boyfriend, played brilliantly by Paul McGann, takes on Ben and the deliciously hostile duel between the pair is electrifying.

Without ruining the end, Ben does have a moment of clarity, but what the play leaves you wondering is whether the lonely academic, will continue to drive away everyone around him with his bad attitude, or whether he will sort himself out.

The whole cast played their parts brilliantly, the dialogue is razor sharp and the darkly comic play, has some side splitting moments, thanks to the dialogue and its rapier like delivery from all the actors.

Butley is an amazing study of an academic who takes no responsibility for himself or others, unravelling in a tragi comic way - whether he can look forward to any sort of redemption is left up to the audience to decide.