THERE are lots of memorable characters in PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories, so it’s quite some feat for three actors to bring a dozen of them to the stage in a couple of hours, but that’s what Luke Barton, Alistair Cope and Patrick Warner do in the Goodale brothers’ delightful play-within-a-play-after-Wodehouse, at Salisbury Playhouse until 23rd September.
The wealthy young Bertie Wooster has been regaling his chums at the Drones Club about his adventures, when one of them says “you should make a play of this” – and Bertie, who has been to the theatre a couple of times himself and feels that more or less anyone could do this acting stuff, takes the hint. Of course he couldn’t do it without the faithful Jeeves, and the two of them need a third, so Bertie’s aunt Dahlia’s butler Seppings is brought in.
And so the story begins …
It’s the typical tale of bumbling chums, tyrannical fathers, daffy girlfriends, wickedly naughty chaps and bungling police officers, all calmed by the expertise of their staunchly loyal but slightly scheming butlers.
The success of the show, directed by Marieke Audsley and beautifully designed by Olivia du Monceau in true Art Deco style, depends on timing, and this trio of actors should be running masterclasses. Luke Barton is the charmingly accident-prone Bertie, with Patrick Warner (who knows a thing or two about physical comic timing from his time with the various plays-that-went-wrong) as Jeeves and Alistair Cope as his second-in-service, Seppings.
Meet the newt-obsessed Gussie Fink-Nottle, the authoritarian Sir Watkin Bassett, his suspicious daughter Madeline and his love-struck niece Stiffy, the fast-growing Roderick Spode, a policeman, a jeweller, their butlers and let’s not forget the newt, Bertie’s only other role (and beautifully done!)
Perhaps the highlight of the hilarious evening is when Jeeves, dressed half as Sir Watkin and half as his daughter, tells a whole tale while leaping round and round to ensure that the right part of his body is on show to the audience.
Thanks too to Rob … but if you sit at the front you might become the Rob de votre jour!
It’s a great laugh and obviously delighted the packed, and loudly whooping, audience. Not quite sure what Plum would have made of that new fashion.
Photographs by Marc Brenner