Anna Frazier, Hermione Bean-Mills, Abram, Korfhage, Ben Osborne, Ethan Peterson, & Miles Essenpereis in The Butler Did It. Photo: Little Colonel

The Butler Did It

By Tim Kelly
Directed by Sharon Spurrier

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

The title itself is a red herring, as there doesn’t appear to be a butler anywhere inside Ravenswood Manor, where this parody of drawing-room mysteries takes place. Even in a spoof of detective stories, nothing is as it seems.

Seven mystery writers have been invited to Ravenswood Manor, located off of San Francisco on Turkey Island, by Miss Maple (Hermione Bean-Mills), known for her weekend-long party events. In short order, there is a murder and an assortment of mysterious incidents that follow, all during a thunderstorm that has cut off communications with the mainland.

As far as the plot goes, enough said. The first jokes are in the characters, all spoofs of famous fictional detectives. G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown becomes Father White (Ethan Peterson), Agatha Christie’s Poirot translates to Louis LaCroix (Ben Osborne), Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe is here Chandler Marlowe (Abram Korfhage), Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles are Rick and Laura Carlyle (Joshua Brooks and Trinity Ortloff), while Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey becomes Peter Flimsy (Miles Essenpreis). I’m not entirely certain who Charity Haze (Anna Frazier) is modeled on except the name sounds like Modesty Blaise, a British comic strip character that seems a little out-of-place.

When the jokes are that obvious and sometimes ridiculous the temptation is to overplay, and this cast is guilty of that, although they land most all of the laughs. At times the delivery struck me as shrill, with discipline giving way to sudden, shreiking outbursts substituted for calculated delivery. Most of the timing was good, but there was a lot of mugging and a few of the cast were prone to schtick. Even a text this silly is best served by grounded playing and foundations for the characters.

On that score, Hermione Bean-Mills started with good footing before slipping into caricature, while Miles Essenpreis remained consistent and solid as Flimzy, and, with an appropriately plummy vaudeville French accent, Ben Osborne was also steady and sure.

The set was well managed and the costumes were a good pastiche of the images of the famous characters being lampooned.

Readers of such literary detectives will catch a good deal more of the jokes than those who have not, but the genre is historically driven by cliche and stereotypes and most of us will find the milieu and narrative familiar and hospitable enough to stay with it all the way through. The Butler Did It delivers 2 hours of silly, escapist fun; an easy way to beat the heat as we enter the dog days of summer.

Featuring Juliana Bariteau, Hermione Bean-Mills, Joshua Brooks, Miles Essenpreis, Anna Frazier, Abram Korfhage, Trinity Ortloff, Ben Osborne, Evelyn Peercy, & Ethan Peterson 

The Butler Did It

July 28, 29, 30 August 5 @ 7:30 pm
July 30 & August 6 @ 2:00 pm

Little Colonel Players
302 Mt Mercy Drive 
Pewee Valley, KY 40056

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for