Fringe 2019 Review: 'The Butler Did It'


One dark and stormy winter night (or was it fall?) way back in the 1930s (or was it the 1940s?), mob boss Big Bill Bourbon was whacked while inside his own home, surrounded by suspicious characters. The murderer could have been his voluptuous rival Ruby Redstone (Lilly Linheart), his twitchy client Little Larry (Justin Duncan), his cheating wife, Jackie (Ausley Gooding), or his duplicitous daughter Danielle (Shuana Stone). Why, he could have been done in by practically anyone — except probably his butler (Nic Stelter), because that would be waaaay too obvious. Good thing Detective Schemer (Josh Wade) and his plucky assistant Jessica (Jena Rashid) are on the case in The Butler Did It, Matt Ulb’s side-splitting new satire of melodramatic whodunits.

Along with director Sophia Treto and a cast and crew of fellow UCF undergrads, Ulb has crafted both a loving tribute to and a savage skewering of old-fashioned Agatha Christie-style mysteries. In the grand tradition of Clue and Murder by Death, the brilliantly stupid script never meets a gag — running, sight or otherwise — it doesn’t like. Treto stages the rapidly rising body count at wonderfully wacky pace, and Wade witnesses it all with a deadpan dry witlessness that would give The Naked Gun’s Frank Drebin a run for his money in absurdist incompetence. The final punchline didn’t quite land, but you can’t help but love a production with a literal red herring for a prop. I had zero expectations going in, but The Butler Did It has a big cast and even bigger laughs, making it the best surprise from my first day at Fringe 2019.

The Butler Did It

Project Spotlight
Orlando FL
Ages 13 and up
55 minutes
Thursday, May 16th 5:30 PM
Sunday, May 19th 9:15 PM
Monday, May 20th 9:00 PM
Friday, May 24th 5:30 PM
Sunday, May 26th 8:30 PM  

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