Review: Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, at Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre
PUBLISHED: 12:51 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 12:40 04 December 2014
Perfect Nonsense is a piece of work so clever that even Jeeves, a man very sparing with his praise, would have said "Indeed Sir", says Joanna Adams
The Goodale Brothers play was indeed “Perfect Nonsense” and caught PG Wodehouse’s characters so right. Giving a whirlwind performance, James Lance brought Wooster’s role of narrator, buffoon and dupe to life just as he was written. Never drawing breath, ever gesticulating, falling, even doing the splits as scenery shifted beneath him, he held the attention and eager involvement of the audience throughout, only halting when brought low by yet another acerbic put down from the dead-pan Jeeves, so convincingly caught by the excellent John Gordon Sinclair. Somewhat over the top perhaps, but great fun, and Heavens Lance did work hard.
The play programme told us exactly what to expect. A three-man play, largely featuring the banter between an upper class twit and his butler with a minor role from Robert Goodale’s Seppings. We were still trying to work out how Lance and Gordon Sinclair were playing Jeeves and Wooster who were then playing themselves in order to tell us a story when in stormed a frightful vision in flouncing apricot, because nothing had prepared for Aunt Dahlia - or was it just Seppings in ghastly frock and wonky wig? But soon, they were all there, with Goodale and Gordon Sinclair super fast changing into, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Stiffy Byng, Sir Watkyn Bassett and Bertie’s terrifying nemesis Roderick Spode pretending to be an eight foot Hitler with manic moustache, floppy hair and side table legs. Poor Bertie never knew who was going to be on to him next!
This play had us all rolling for two hours and The Everyman truly had a treat, because the clever script depended upon the perfect timing, near perfect portrayals and inventive props of a slick team who had honed their performances following the play’s West End accolades and a successful tour.
DO see this, and DO take your children. I took my teenage daughter, a very modern miss, never exposed to Wodehouse, too young to have seen the Fry and Laurie TV series and who was worried that she was easily the youngest person in the audience. But now she, who thinks me stuck in the twentieth century, was sucked into it herself last night and can’t wait to be so again.
Perfect Nonsense will be running up to this Saturday, November 15. To book tickets, visit: www.everymantheatre.org.uk/m-shows/jeeves-and-wooster
Read our Q&A with James Lance, who plays Bertie Wooster in the show.