Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense @The Duke of Yorks
Early January is generally a fairly miserable time of year. Christmas is long gone, the weather outside is still frightful, we’re all back at work and bemoaning eating like gluttons for the last month… all in all not a fun time and one that can all too easily lead to feeling rather depressed.
I’ve found over the years that there is no surer cure for the blues than a healthy dose of PG Wodehouse, so I was hoping that I might be in for something of a booster shot here.
If you’re around my age, or older (and maybe even if you’re in your twenties), then to you Jeeves and Wooster may as well be renamed Fry & Laurie, so superb were the two performers in their roles on TV. As such you have to wonder if Stephen Mangan and Matthew MacFayden had any doubts before stepping up to take on the roles.
For anyone who has seen the long-running production of The 39 Steps the format here will be familiar, three actors playing a multitude of roles in a sort of play within a play setting.
We open with Mangan sat in a comfy chair on an otherwise bare stage, informing us that he is there to regale us with the story of a recent visit to Totleigh Towers as his friends at the Drones have told him it’s a tale worthy of the stage. All too soon he finds that he cannot quite do the tale justice by himself and recruits Jeeves to play himself. With his customary ingenuity the gentleman’s gentleman contrives to build an ever more impressive set and recruits his wheezing and ancient fellow butler Seppings to help fill the many roles.
Poor Mark Hadfield probably does half as much leg work again as his two better known colleagues and plays up to the ludicrous nature of the play brilliantly, his baffled stares as Bertie describes the imposing figure of Roderick Spode are hilarious! Director Sean Foley continues his impressive knack of breathing fresh life into classic British comedy, keeping the momentum high and rarely allowing the actors to grab a breath
The script, by The Goodale Brothers, clings faithfully to The Code Of The Woosters, revelling in Wodehouse’s wonderful use of language and unique turn of phrase. Alice Power keeps the costuming simple and effective and her ingeniously simple set designs work wonderfully.
Whatever might be wrong, however miserable winter might be making you feel, get along to the Duke of York’s theatre to find a cure for what ails you!