Birmingham and Tour
JEEVES & WOOSTER IN PERFECT NONSENSE: The Goodale Brothers (based on PG Woodhouse)
Runs: 2h 15m, one interval
Birmingham Rep 9 – 14 March: 0121 236 4455
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 11 03 15
Lots of laughs – but is it enough?
This is a show of extremes – and I’m sure I’m going to sound awfully grumpy later on.
On one hand this is a piece of nonsense (as in the title) that gives rise to some highly comedic playing – lots of laughs, then (as in one of the producers, Just for Laughs Theatricals).
Wooster (Raymond Webb) begins to tell us a convoluted story about his relatives, a notebook and a silver creamer in the shape of a cow. And when I say convoluted I mean try and unravel the story at your peril. The joke is that there are only him, his trusty Jeeves and another family retainer Seppings to play the plethora of aunts, uncles, policemen, paramours and villains.
True to form Wooster sails through the story nearly oblivious to the chaos he causes and certainly oblivious to the hard work of the two servants (butlers). Webb is suitably twitish, with a certain boyish charm – so we rather like him despite the fact he’s an ass. Jason Thorpe and Christopher Ryan (Jeeves and Seppings) perform masterfully. Their ability to quick change both costumes and characters is a delight, heightened by skilful physical clowning.
So PERFECT NONSENSE has a lot going for it.
On the other hand, it is just for laughs. There is little else. At the bottom of it, it’s one joke, and the comedy and physical comedy lack context so we don’t care about the characters at all. The joke wears thin. I would love to see this talent in a better vehicle.
There is a question to be asked as to why a subsidised regional theatre is offering a home to lightweight commercial shows. But maybe Roxana Silbert (Rep Artistic Director) knows she must balance her books in a time when there may soon be horrendously deep cuts to subsidy; that this is her only way for survival. Loud warning bells should be ringing.
Jeeves: Jason Thorpe
Bertie Wooster: Robert Webb
Seppings: Christopher Ryan
Director: Sean Foley
Associate Director: Michael Guyngell
Costume Designer: Alice Power
Lighting Designer: James Farncombe
Music and Sound Designer: Ben and Max Ringham
Tour Casting: Jonathan Russell
Original Casting: Sarah Bird
Assistant Director: Cecily Boys
Choreographer: Carrie-Anne Ingrouille