Liz Coggins reviews the award winning comedy at Leeds Grand Theatre
I always thought P G Wodehouse novels were reading fodder for red faced retired majors in the smoke filled lst class railway carriages of the fifties, heads submerged in a volume of Wooster and away chortling loudly away at his upper class wit. Wodehouse’s work was certainly not for the younger end, especially the “gals” as it was overloaded with male chauvinism.
Over the years there have been many unsuccessful attempts to adapt Wodehous’s work for the stage until the Goodale Brothers took his 1938 novel The Code of Wooster and wrote the multi-award award winning play Perfect Nonsense.
The structure of the play is similar to “Noises Off” and “The Play That Goes Wrong”. Wooster hires a theatre to put on a dramatised version of one of his escapades involving Aunt Dahlia, a cow cream dispenser, a notebook containing scandalous revelations and a visit to his newt loving chum.. Realising he can’t play all the parts he enlists the help of gentlemen’s gentleman Jeeves and his aunt’s butler Seppings who double as his cast.
What follows is a brilliantly staged piece of mayhem with unbelievable pace, ingenuity and comedy timing with the two men leaving the stage as one character and returning immediately as another and making it look so easy!
Jason Thorpe (Jeeves) is utterly amazing in his characterization getting that non-emotion stern look off to perfection. His eccentric role changes are totally convincing bordering on sheer brilliance in one piece where he simultaneously plays a man and woman.
I was left breathless by Christopher Ryans (Seppings) versatility, seamless changes of persona and costume. Like Thorpe he has multifarious roles to play including dotty Aunt Dahlia and the vile Roderick Spode whose height creates the perfect running gag.
Robert Webb’s Bertie Wooster is sufficiently cut glass and buffoon enough to satisfy the most discerning Wodehouse fan, however at times his delivery descended into a gabble and he really does need up the volume as occasionally it was a struggle, even from the stalls, to hear him.
Leeds Grand 01 Jun – 07 Jun