Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense: Cheltenham Everyman, November 10-15
PUBLISHED: 16:49 22 October 2014 | UPDATED: 17:01 22 October 2014
Direct from the West End, adapted from the works of PG Wodehouse by The Goodale Brothers, and directed by Sean Foley.
The hit West End comedy, Jeeves and Wooster, is coming to the Everyman next month, fresh from a sell-out West End run.
This adorable production layers joy on joy, joke on joke, in a delightful evening of theatrical absurdity featuring P.G Wodehouse’s iconic double act. James Lance (I’m Alan Partridge; Teachers; The Book Group) plays the aristocratic fool, Bertie Wooster and John Gordon Sinclair (Gregory’s Girl) is his dutiful valet, Jeeves.
When a perfectly delightful trip to the countryside takes a turn for the worse, Bertie is called on to play matchmaker and steal a cow creamer from Totleigh Towers. Of course, the ever dependable Jeeves is there to prevent Bertie from making a fool of himself in front of a cast of Wodehouse’s finest characters. Enjoy an evening of raucous comedy in the company of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Sir Watkin Bassett, Aunt Dahlia, Roderick Spode and Constable Oates!
Laugh out loud funny, Perfect Nonsense is the comedy of the year.
Candia McKormack spends five minutes in the company of ‘Wooster’...
You may have seen James Lance’s performances on TV’s I’m Alan Partridge, The Book Group and Teachers, and now he’s applying his comic brilliance to the role of Bertie Wooster in a new play at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre.
Playing opposite John Gordon Sinclair’s Jeeves, you can expect an evening of raucous comedy and theatrical absurdity as they bring PG Wodehouse’s larger-than-life characters to the stage.
I catch up with James briefly backstage near the beginning of the show’s West End run…
How have the performances been going – has it been well received so far?
Yeah, we had a big standing ovation the other night which was gorgeous. It’s amazing – really, really nice.
What’s it like working with John Gordon Sinclair and the rest of the cast? Have you worked with John before?
This is the first time I’ve worked with John, but I hope I get to again. He is the nicest man in showbiz; he’s gorgeous! A very kind and generous man, and I adore him.
The play is coming to Cheltenham’s Everyman on Nov 10-15. Have you been to the area before?
No, this is the first time that I’ve been there, but I’m really looking forward to it.
Are you enjoying playing Bertie Wooster? What do you think of him?
I absolutely love him to bits; I really enjoy playing him. It didn’t immediately work for me though; it took a little while – I’m still working on him now, actually. I had a sort of misconception of who he was based on other performances, but then when I was offered the role I started to read the novels and research PG Wodehouse himself, and I fell in love with him.
It must be a challenge not being influenced by other actor’s portrayals of Wooster…
Yes, there have been some very strong performances. The two that spring to mind are Hugh Laurie, and before him Ian Carmichael. And even though they’re very different, the Wooster spirit is running throughout both.
So, once you’d read Wodehouse, did you get a very distinct feeling of how you should play Wooster yourself?
I think I did in a way; it’s very much written in the spirit of the time, which is so different to how things are now. It was straight after the Great War and it shows someone just embracing wholeheartedly the joy of it all being over. The aspect of the character that I latched on to was of him just wanting to have fun. I think I probably thought he was quite dim and maybe, academically he is, but on other levels he’s really rather wise.
What do you think of the relationship between Jeeves and Wooster – is it a ‘healthy’ one, would you say?
[laughs] Healthy? Probably not! But fully operational, and functioning rather well. I think both characters really enjoy the fact that they are complete opposites; I think Bertie brightens up Jeeves’s day, and at the same time, without Jeeves, Bertie’s day wouldn’t be as bright either.
You’re well known for your TV and film work. Do you enjoy live theatre by comparison?
I am having the time of my life right now! The play is so funny, and everybody across the board on the production is just brilliant. Because it’s a farce you’ve got to have some really focused people, ranging from the lighting and stage management to the wardrobe department who are just phenomenal. I’ll look into the wings and there will be Adam, who looks after me, holding out a pair of trousers ready… I have to do some very quick changes.
I love the fact that you have Adam waiting in the wings to dress you – it’s almost like you’re living Bertie’s life, with your very own valet.
I am! I get fresh pants laid out for me every day, as well as socks.
Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre from Monday, November 10 to Saturday, November 15. Tickets are £20-£30. Box office: 01242 572573, everymantheatre.org.uk