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Review of Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

For some unknown reason Jeeves & Wooster has managed to pass me by until my encounter with this rather silly but tremendous fun play. I was aware of the characters of course, the upper class fool Wooster and his highly efficient butler Jeeves, but seen or read about them, absolutely not. On the evidence on display in Perfect Nonsense, it might just be worthwhile having a look.

I say might just, because I personally felt that this play was more entertaining from the premise of a play being thrown together in front of our eyes rather than the tale that it told. Bertie Wooster you see wants to put on a play to tell the story of a rather troublesome encounter with a silver cow creamer he has suffered. He does however not have the brains or ability to create such a thing, so his ever dependable butler is constantly on hand to ensure that things mostly go smoothly. The third and final character of the play is Aunt Dahlia’s butler, Seppings, who like Jeeves but unlike Wooster himself, is destined to have to take on a series of different characters in Bertie's tale.

The joy of the play indeed is in all of these troublesome problems. Be they the wrong hat, the wrong wig or even the need to have a conversation with yourself in a neat two sided costume, the cast are the stars of this show more than the story.

Joseph Chance is a wonderfully clinical Jeeves with perfected asides to the audience when Wooster has become particularly tiresome. He is also particularly comical as his alter egos, far removed from Jeeves, particularly the short sighted Gussie Fink-Nottle. Frequently flapping clumsily trying to get hold of the knobs, on the doors, or having conversations with lampshades.

Matthew Carter presents a perfect buffoon of a Wooster who much of the time is in a bemused state unable to find doors and often astounded by his butler's efficiency. There is a clever neat part, repeated twice, where Wooster himself switches costumes and typically his co-stars, he is slow and clumsy about it. As Carter says this is the boring bit. Interestingly from our side seats on the evening, we were able to see Carter get dressed into his suits just off stage (don't worry pants were always present). The elderly lady in front would have got an even better view, however for her, seemingly not good enough to return for the second half.

The star though comes in the form of co-adapter Robert Goodale as the decrepit butler Seppings, who via his need to play "all of the other characters" becomes much less decrepit. His turns as Aunt Dahlia and the Hitler-esque towering Roderick Spode make the show, with his helpless expressions classic moments. He is also involved in the funniest moment of the play featuring a trains arrival, I shall say no more.

For those that have seen The Play That Goes Wrong or The 39 Steps there will be much familiar in Perfect Nonsense, and to be honest those do many things much better. However this is perfect slapstick entertainment which cannot fail to entertain any theatre or P.G. Wode enthusiast. Not quite perfect, but the most wonderful nonsense and highly recommended.

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Performance reviewed: Monday 5th October, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

Jeeves & Wooster - Perfect Nonsense runs at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 10th October, 2015 before continuing its tour.
http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Royal/JeevesAndWooster/

For further details visit the Royal & Derngate website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/


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