2017 Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RATz

JEEVES AND WOOSTER

 

Director: Billy Garner

Date seen: Saturday 25th February 2017

 

Since I reached the age of twenty, and yes that was some years ago, I turned my back on the written word in favour of television and film. It has, since that time, been my contention that, if God had meant us to read books, he would not have invented the DVD. However, in the days before I reached my 20th year, I loved books, and more importantly, I loved P.G.Wodehouse! As I took my seat at The Angles Theatre, I was extremely excited to see my two of my favourite fictional characters, brought to life by three of my favourite amateur performers.

 

The set (design by Robert Williams, construction and management by Phil Griggs and John Fletcher) was perfection. This was a studio style production and the basic, infinitely changeable, scenery was just what was required. The embellishments and augmentations to the aforementioned scenery (Bob Legend .. sorry Ledger) added greatly to the spectacle and incidental props (cast and Theatre) whilst few, caused me no offence whatsoever. The costumes (cast and Theatre) did look to have been something of an afterthought and it did occur to me where the entire focus was on the performers … a little more effort might have been a good investment. However, Aunt Dahlia’s wig (Kerry Shippey) was well worth the ticket price alone!

 

My opening comments are most relevant as I had read this story and also seen the Fry and Laurie version on the small screen. It is a cracking yarn and this stage adaptation used a storytelling technique which was excellent. Socialite and man-about-town, Bertie Wooster, decides to recount the story to the audience with the help of omnipresent man servant, Jeeves and another butler, Seppings. Bertie remains himself whilst the two butlers play all the other parts. You don’t need to know any more about the plot, only that no comedy stone was left unturned!

 

Josh Shippey (married by the time this goes into circulation) is a fine comedy actor. His sense of the ridiculous is rivalled only by his father’s. His version of Jeeves was very different to those that had gone before but that is purely an observation and by no means a criticism. Amongst his many other parts, I nearly wet myself every time he turned up as Gussie Fink-Nottle. Mr Shippey was confident with his lines and tireless with his performance.

Matt Beare is very much like Josh Shippey. They share many of the same skills and I like nothing better than seeing them perform together. With Mr Shippey focussing on Jeeves, Mr Beare had free rein with a large quantity of the other characters in the story. He was particularly effective as Spode, the villain of the piece and hilarious as Aunt Dahlia. He simply milked every possible laugh from each of his manifestations and my face was aching as I left the theatre.

 

In a seven paragraph review it would be easy to dismiss the appropriation of penultimate paragraph honours, but you would do so at your peril. Chris Moment is a very endearing performer and was perfectly cast as the well-intentioned inbred, Bertie Wooster. It is impossible to enjoy Pelham Grenville Wodehouse unless you empathise with his central character and accept all his imperfections. Mr Moment made it easy, being not just enormously likeable, but in my humble opinion, perfectly capturing the very essence of the person he was playing.  He is a brilliant comedy actor but on this night it was a lot more than that. His control, timing and the way he waded through mountains of dialogue without a hint of hesitation, deviation or repetition, that completely stole the show. He was always the straight man to the other two performers and the keystone to the whole production.

 

My profound congratulations and sincere thanks to débutante director, Billy Garner, for bringing me back to Mr J and Mr W. Mr Garner is a professional standard actor in his own right and this cabaret style, high comedy production was the perfect project for him to try his hand at directing. The technical direction was excellent and the creativity and innovation delightful. So many laughs, and so many ideas… and so much energy! The pinnacle of innovation was most definitely the unexpected appearance of Mr Shippey at one end of the theatre, when I was sure he was at the other end! My hat is completely off to all four of these gentleman for an amazing night of comedy that will have me smiling for months to come. Now, where did I leave my Fry and Laurie box-set?

 

Stephen P E Hayter

(Regional Representative – NODA Eastern Region Area 4 North)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are grateful for the support from the Wisbech Round Table

Telephone: 01945 47 44 47

Email: office@anglestheatre.co.uk

 

Angles Theatre Wisbech

Cambridgeshire PE13 1HQ

Registered Charity 278240

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We are grateful for the support from the Wisbech Round Table

Angles Theatre Wisbech