It’s always the butler. The butler, in the parlor, with the rope. Ripped straight from a classic game of Clue. But this isn’t Clue. It’s a game, and it is deadly. You know. With all the murder and such.
So, no. It’s not the butler this time. It’s the the butler’s suave, yet abusive employer and his less than able friend and partner. But in a murder thriller, what is there left for the butler to do? Butler things, obviously. The good Sabot is a good employee. He does his job with vim, vigor, and perhaps just a healthy dose of European prejudice, like the proud Frenchman he is.
But the prejudices cut across the channel it seems. The wily Brandon continually dismisses the poor Sabot, claiming the servants are all away and there is no one there to take care of them, often times in the very presence of the careful man who does so. The sociopathic tendencies of murdering people and putting them in boxes doesn’t come without a suitable shot of the occasional racist undertone, eh Monsieur Brandon?
Furthermore, to what does Hamilton owe the pleasure of inviting a lowly French servant into his play of primarily upper class British intellectuals? In fact, Hamilton seems to have only ever mild (if ever any) affection for these people. Everyone is somehow inferior to everyone else, whether they have a tragic shortcoming or they are representatives of, as Brandon himself puts it, “unintellectual humanity”. Or they are dead. A terrible shortcoming for anyone to have. Sabot, while he is not safe from Hamilton’s harsh harassments, is described by the playwright himself as the perfect servant. He is ambitious, industrious, and a married man with hopes and dreams, working hard for the family and restaurant he one day hopes to realize. And despite being little more than a Parisian plot device, his exit from the play offers a single moment of sincerity and genuine kindness from the fastidious Rupert Cadell. Not for his duties as a servant, but for his brotherhood as a man.
Sabot escapes this house completely unharmed; a blessing few receive in Patrick Hamilton’s Rope. As characters like Brandon and Rupert clash and cling for intellect and life, very few become representatives of innocence. At it’s core, Rope breaks down to a battle of wits, with innocence acting as the war zone. It is brutalized, humiliated, and disgraced, reaching the denouement soiled and salted and irreversible. The solace we can take from it is knowing that even though a talented and brave set of artists have to revive this horrifying evening night after night, an audience can walk away graciously holding in themselves that untainted humanity. We see the potential to better ourselves. We are made humble. We challenge the vanity and sin with compassion and morality. We embrace the catharsis and exit that theatre, lucky as we are to not be the man behind the choking rope, or the body inside the bloody chest.
Sabot in Rope