JEEVES & WOOSTER IN PERFECT NONSENSE’
Edinburgh King’s Theatre
MAY 11th 2015
On our way to the King’s Theatre we kept our expectations fairly level, somewhere between an enthusiastic ‘It has to be good as Robert Webb is in it, it just has to!!’ and a solemn ‘How can anyone possibly improve on Fry & Laurie’s classic TV take?’.
It is always difficult to bring a fresh angle to plays and adaptations that are so well loved they’ve been done to death but this cast pulled it off with a flourish.
From the moment Webb stepped onstage in his roles as Bertie and narrator, he absolutely owned the role of Bertie Wooster, managing to combine moments of manic energy with the loveably vacuous demeanour of everyone’s favourite toff. His delivery was perfect and, once Wodehousian shenanigans were in full swing, the TV version vanished in a puff of smoke and laughter at this reincarnation. Webb is obviously a very clever man, to portray someone that obtuse with such acute aplomb.
The combination of dialogue interspersed with fast & furious set/prop changes (all of which were used as a complementary feature to the play itself and caused consistent amusement throughout) worked perfectly. Set & costume designer Alice Power is to be commended on this.
Jason Thorpe and Christopher Ryan had a much more demanding job as they played no less than three characters each, of both genders, requiring lightning-fast costume and voice changes but their consummate professionalism shone through- they never put a foot wrong, save for a brief moment of corpsing form Thorpe, which of course is no bad thing in an already rather surreal comedy, providing a moment of intimacy as the audience lapped up the chance to laugh with the actors and not just at them.
Thorpe lacked the height and solid, physical presence of other Jeeves actors however he shone in his various other guises as the socially inept, newt-fancying Gussie Fink-Nottle and most especially in a downright hilarious, absolutely inspired scene of him simultaneously playing the braying Sir Watkyn Basset and his not-so-innocent young ward, Miss Stiffy Byng- one to look out for!
Ryan speeds between between the long suffering, deferential Seppings the butler, Bertie’s eccentric Aunt Dahlia, whom he imbues with an air of the demented window-licker, the Scottish butler at Totleigh Towers (in essence a Scottish indentikit of Seppings, complete with ginger hair) and the lunatic Führer-like Spode, never once putting a foot wrong.
The beauty of P.G. Wodehouse was his ability to build a clever comedy of manners around the most ridiculous affairs and objects (in this case a cow-shaped creamer), giving us a ringside seat to the quirky strangeness of human interaction and often hinting at greater transgressions but never actually revealing them. This show had it all, and the lovely interior and perfect size of the King’s Theatre was the icing on the cake.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: Slow motion scene involving cow creamer- simply inspired!
COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY: To see a woman play one of the multi-character roles would be a welcome and interesting twist .
Overall a funny, warm and engaging performance, ‘Perfect Nonsense’ was an all round success, even for those who are unfamiliar with the Jeeves & Wooster stories.
Reveiwer : Maya Moreno