Butt Kapinski

Sat 8th – Sun 30th August 2015


Fergus Morgan

at 00:42 on 11th Aug 2015



Butt Kapinski is the on-stage persona of Deanna Fleysher, a debauched, world-wearied, seen-it-all Los Angeles private-eye, with a high-collared raincoat, an unfortunate speech impediment, and a series of bwutal – brutal – murders to solve. But although there is a short cast-list of one, Butt Kapinski is far from a one-woman show; the audience are also assigned a host of supporting roles by Fleysher and their involvement gradually increases until they are practically performing the show themselves.

After establishing that Kapinski will be starring in a classic film noir – crime, corruption, and a detective determined to uncover the truth – Fleysher assigns one audience member the role of musical accompanist, an obligation he fulfilled with aplomb, humming and whistling a thoroughly varied score throughout.

Fleysher, always as Kapinski, then moves on to casting four or five as murdered corpses, another two as policemen, several as prostitutes (yours truly was yet again miscast as Lucinda, an irresistible blonde), and, particularly memorably, a dour, bearded Scottish gentleman as Kapinski’s love-interest, Lola. Fleysher’s humour is decidedly adult throughout, but it’s entertaining and amusing nonetheless.

As the show progressed, Fleysher’s easy confidence and ability to play off the audience’s reactions, coupled with the inherent humour of her character, soon puts all present at ease. “We’re all in this together”, seemed to be the overriding feeling, “so let’s all have a good time laughing at each other’s discomfort.” It’s surprising how witty the average punter can be with their inhibitions sufficiently lowered.

Indeed, this unifying goodwill becomes increasingly important as Fleysher has the audience perform increasingly embarrassing actions – singing, dancing, pretending to kiss, actually kissing, and even tying a half-naked Fleysher to a chair with duct tape. It is weird, disconcerting, and thoroughly hilarious to watch.

Fleysher spends most of her time prowling around the dispersed rows of seating, flitting from audience member to audience member, each silently praying that she does not alight upon them to perform the next episode in the barely lucid storyline. Dressed in a suit stuffed at the crotch and belly, and a long overcoat, Fleysher is illuminated solely by a flexible lamp she carries on her back, which dangles over her face and casts comically exaggerated shadows. It’s a neat idea, as she is able to reach up and twist the light around to illuminate audience members.

This is far from conventional comedy, but it is testament to the skill of Fleysher that the audience are able to engage with such an unusual concept wholeheartedly.


Liam Marchant

at 08:51 on 11th Aug 2015



When film noir is so clichéd that even its parodies feel sloppy and predictable, Butt Kapinski jabs an adrenaline shot into a genre on life support. It is exactly the sort of sick filth that gave Mary Whitehouse nightmares: it is crude, distasteful, and frankly, brilliant.

Butt Kapinski (Deanna Fleysher) is a private investigator with a look somewhere between Columbo and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Curving up from the neck of his dirty grey trench coat is a lamp which dangles in front of Kapinski throughout the set, an apparatus comparable only to the overhanging lure of an anglerfish.

There’s an initial sense of collective apprehension amongst punters when faced with this Los Angeles P.I. suffering from a major speech impediment, but Fleysher dissipates any reservations or doubts with full-on, unashamed audience involvement. This reviewer even has his trusty notebook confiscated from him by the detective because ‘women can’t be journalists’.

But I get off lightly compared to what many other audience members have to endure. During a tour through the city’s redlight district on the hunt for a murderer, Kapinski introduces us to the town’s ‘whores’ or, with the more accurate lisping Californian twang, the ‘howers’.

What ensues is far too grotesque for words as the audience assists in bringing the scene to life – the women by taking up the part of self-pleasuring ‘Johns’ and the men as brothel-based working girls. Kapinski even takes a seat on the lap of a large Scottish man, christened ‘Lola – the hower to break your heart’, and droolingly laps at his neck. Hardly a barrier is left standing by the end but Fleysher’s talent is to make nothing seem completely off-limits or unacceptable; the audience’s consent is present throughout the whole show.

If I had to put a label on Fleysher’s sense of humour it would be ‘shock and awe’. Revitalising a pastiche as dead as noir takes a lot and Fleysher’s commitment is as unwavering as that of a suicide bomber. Offering one final twist in the story, the character announces ‘but I’m actually a woman!’ before momentarily uncovering her chest and groin.

The show is batshit crazy. See it and every moral fibre in your body will scream and choke up blood. Yes it’s disconcerting, but you’re guaranteed to laugh the whole way through.


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