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Jeeves & Wooster in perfect nonsense

Jeeves & Wooster in perfect nonsense

A new play adapted from the works of P.G. Wodehouse, written by the Goodale Brothers, in which the author's iconic double act land in Bolton for a night of very silly nonsense!

Following a riotous weekend at country house, Totleigh Towers, Bertie Wooster has a tale to tell. Forced to play matchmaker between his newt-fancying acquaintance Gussie Fink-Nottle and the girl of his dreams, Madeline Bisset, Bertie must also secure an elusive silver cow-creamer for his formidable Aunt Dahlia.

It’s a tall order, but fortunately he has the help of his loyal valet, the ever-reliable Jeeves, to navigate the many twists, turns and mishaps in this fast paced and dazzlingly inventive comedy.

This sparkling show will be directed by Marieke Audsley, fresh from her acclaimed and hilarious recent production of Ladies’ Day at the Octagon.

Watch our interview with Luke Barton, who plays Bertie Wooster.

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Jeeves & Wooster in perfect nonsense ON TOUR

Our review on Jeeves & Wooster in perfect nonsense

Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense - The Octagon, Bolton - Friday 6th October 2023 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

The names Jeeves and Wooster are so intrinsically linked and rooted in iconic British comedy, that it’s impossible to think of one without the other.  Their unique pairing and paradoxical relationship allows them to reach their dizzying potential, keeping them as fresh and exciting today as when P. D Wodehouse first created them back in 1915.  A BAFTA award winning TV show starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie brought these beloved characters to a wider audience in 1990, and having never grown weary of the baffling antics of one Bertie Wooster and the ingenious and inventive ways that his valet Jeeves rescues him time and time again, thankfully the Goodale brothers picked up the baton.  With the blessing of the Wodehouse Estate, they created Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense, ensuring Bertie’s mad cap antics continue to delight audiences far and wide. 

Of course, the entire evening is commenced by one Bertie Wooster, an over excited and infectiously charming cad about town.  Bertie explains that the recent events of his life are so brilliantly entertaining that he has decided to put on a play about them and we are to be his audience.  Bertie delights with an adorable childlike innocence as Jeeves beguiles him with quirky scenery tricks, such as a fireplace with fire (courtesy of an orange flame on a stick), and decides that this old acting thing, is really rather easy.  As Bertie begins his tale, we soon discover that it all began with an antique cow creamer!  He finds himself on the receiving end of blackmail time and time again, and the lengths he must go to in order to untangle his expanding web of mayhem are growing more complex by the minute.  One good innocent deed breeds a thousand more disasters in Bertie’s world, hence he finds himself a guest at Totleigh Towers where he must rescue a note book from the wrong hands, fake propose to Stiffy, play along that he is in also in love with Madeline Bassett, hide yet another policeman’s hat, learn how to tie knots in bed sheets and avoid being pummelled to jelly!

Bertie’s story involve a whole host of familiar and formidable larger than life characters such as Madeline Bassett, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Aunt Dahlia, Jeeves, Stepping, Roderick Spode, and Watkyn Bassett.  But he is putting on a play to tell us his tale remember, and, well – his problem lies in the fact that he only has himself, Jeeves and Seppings at his disposal to do so.  There’s only one thing for it.  Jeeves must rescue him again, this time by playing all the necessary characters for Bertie’s tale, and roping in his Valet pal Seppings to do the same.  Sounds straight forward enough – ish – until you add in that many of their multiple characters need to be on stage together at the same time!  Chaos ensues, and quick yet brilliant costume changes will dazzle your eyes in the blink of a newt.  Step ladders, bath tubs, hiding under the bed, lamp shade hats, lace curtain dresses and anything else readily available will be utilised by Jeeves and Seppings to ensure that for Bertie, his show will go on.  Theatre techniques and tricks are used to the level of silly that crosses over to genius comedy choices, and the frivolity that builds is delicious.

The set itself presents many of the punch lines, and whilst you may walk into a stunningly classy art deco design, do not be fooled as it holds more secrets than Jeeves’ secret Valet members only club!  Designed by Olivia Du Monceau, its transformations from Berties pad, to an antique shop or to a variety of rooms in Totleigh towers, and they are all hidden in plain sight.  Its brilliance lies is in how we see the magic of set design taking place right in front of us, and we see it through the wonder of Bertie’s enchanted eyes.  The audience gladly suspend their disbelief, and a most glorious moment was the transformation of some chairs, a few sticks and dinner plates, into a car!  The affection of Jeeves and Seppings for Bertie in this scene is wonderful, seeing the lengths they go to in order to indulge his play.  We are even treated to a foley soundstage, complete with a railway crossing.  It is theatre skills at their best.  Director Marieke Audsley has to be applauded for the playfulness, resourcefulness, and inventive imagination when making such known characters feel fresh and new.   

Luke Barton (Frankenstein, Sherlock, The Hound Of The Baskervilles) will steal your heart as Bertie Wooster.  Filled with a sense of childlike wonder, enthusiasm, innocence, and loyalty, he brings Bertie to life in a way that is so endearing, daft, and believable, you will be rooting for him throughout.  Barton is exceptional at wearing Berties heart on his sleeve for he hides nothing.  Every thought, feeling and inner voice is written all over his face, and is presented in its entirety through every nuance, expression, smile and movement.  It is exceptional acting and it never faulters once.  How he keeps a straight face in certain moments when presented with the slapstick comedy and physicality of Patrick Warner (one man 2 guvnors, The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Gies wrong) or Alistair Cope (A Gallop Through History, Motherland, Judy) as Jeeves and Seppings respectively, and their multi verse of additional characters, I’ll never know.  Warner bounces across his numerous characters with sheer brilliance.  His Jeeves is dry and all knowing, in complete contrast to his Gussie Fink – Nottle, who I could have listened to all night just for the voice!  It was fantastic and his vocal delivery alone had me belly laughing, as did his one man / two person monologue / duologue moment!  Cope excels in his physical comedy, whether he is gliding across the stage as Seppings or delivering the irate Snode on a multitude of platforms from chairs to stepladders as his supposed height is exaggerated with each retelling by Bertie. His ability to flit from one persona to the next is incredible and allows for endless hilarity.  Barton, Warner, and Cope are clearly highly skilled performers and genuinely seem to be having the time of their lives, which only enhances the audiences enjoyment.

There are so many elements that make Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense a daft and dashing delight to behold, whether it be the subline scene and character changes, the charming and unique language, the detailed music choice prior to the play beginning and at the interval, the references to previous stories seen in the television show, or the outstanding performers.  You will laugh, you will smile, you will be won over the eccentric, colourful and bemusing language.  So don’t be a bally dingbat and miss out on a spiffing night of golly good greatness.  To miss out would be utter balderdash after all, and you don’t want to be the rummy that is pipped to the post now do you!  So what-ho are you waiting for?  Pop along to watch Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense and you’ll have a tra-la-la kind of evening old chums.  Toodle-oo!  


Watch our video "In Conversation with Luke Barton" discussing the show.

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