Review: Jeeves and Wooster whip up a riot of laughter in Chipping Norton

Nick Le Mesurier reviews Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at The Theatre, Chipping Norton

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 9:58 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 10:00 am
'I could only gasp at the ease with which the actors switched roles'
'I could only gasp at the ease with which the actors switched roles'

Golly! What a romp! Jeeves and Wooster at their finest, live on stage! Bertie’s in his usual conflab, of course, in a mess not entirely of his own making. Were it not for Jeeves, that imperturbable rock of a man, that eagle-eyed valet of genius, he would truly be in the soup, married off to ghastly Madeleine Basset or worse, Stiffy Bing. Or else in jail for stealing a silver cow creamer.

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense has Bertie (Matthew Cavendish) trying to recount the story of The Code of the Woosters, one of Wodehouse’s most popular novels. Bertie’s devised a play telling of the terrible deeds at Totleigh Towers, and he’s recruited Jeeves (Andrew Ashford) and Aunt Dahlia’s valet Seppings (Andrew Cullum) to help him. The three of them perform the whole thing, all but Bertie playing a heavenly host of our favourite characters, ranging from a nine-foot-tall Sir Roderick Spode (Seppings) to a very naughty Stiffy Bing (Jeeves).

One can only marvel at the ingenuity of the crew that puts together this awesome display of stage craft, here at home in Chipping Norton before embarking on a mammoth tour of over forty venues, ranging from village halls to large provincial theatres.

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In between the laughs I could only gasp at the ease with which the actors switched roles. They are helped by a cornucopia of objects designed to give effects, from various moveable doors and windows to a bath, a car and a shop display. The costume changes were immaculate and quicksilver slick.

But it’s the acting on which this very funny show depends and is both mistress and slave. If one were ever to ask what theatre can do that film and TV can’t this wholly live show would provide the answer.

* Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense runs until Saturday February 15. Visit www.chippingnortontheatre.com or call 01608 642350 to book.