Review: Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense; New Wolsey Theatre, until October 17

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the New Wolsey Theatre

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Archant

Barking-mad Bertie Wooster and his resourceful and unflappable butler Jeeves are two of the 20th Century’s greatest comic creations and this new play, adapted from Wodehouse, finds the pair on wonderfully inventive form.

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the New Wolsey Theatre

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Archant

This new bout of inspired silliness, Perfect Nonsense, won the Olivier Award in 2014 for Best Comedy during its West End run and is now on an extensive UK tour.

The play opens on a bare stage with Wooster directly addressing the audience, attempting to act out the drama of his day.

As expected, this is a total disaster until Jeeves arrives on the scene and is recruited to help out. Much to Wooster’s bewilderment, Jeeves starts wheeling on pieces of scenery to form the backdrop to Wooster’s self-inflicted tale of woe.

The wittiness of the writing is reflected in the inventiveness of the set design, which raises several laughs of its own along the way.


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Matthew Carter and Joseph Chance are superb as the title characters and create a real bond with the audience – not only speaking directly to them but at times involving them with the action on stage.

The third hard-working member of the team is co-writer and tour director Robert Goodale, who plays Seppings, Jeeves’ butling acquaintance. “I believe he has an aptitude for impersonations,” Jeeves observes.

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Half the fun of this surreal comic confection is watching Chance and Goodale leap from character to character with barely a moment for a costume change.

The play rockets along with tremendous energy and they have huge fun creating theatrical devices to represent a storm-lashed car journey and the notion that Britain’s would-be fascist dictator, Roderick Spode, is nine-feet tall.

My only minor quibble is that the slapstick is a little too manic. It needs to be a little more controlled, a little more directed. It looks as if its the sort of thing that has grown on tour and has become a little too indulgent as a result.

Apart from that, this latest addition to the Jeeves and Wooster canon may be perfect nonsense but it is also a breath of theatrical fresh air. Also playing at Colchester Mercury from October 30-November 1

Andrew Clarke

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