Thursday, 24 October 2013

Jeeves & Wooster at the Theatre Royal Brighton

I have a bit of a dilemma and sadly I don't have Jeeves on hand to assist me. You see the problem is, how do you review a play when you are anxious to give nothing away? The joy of last night's production was that it was so unexpected, and I would hate to be the person to spoil that effect for anyone. Oh well let's see what I can do...

I have been a big fan of Jeeves & Wooster for as long as I can remember, originally through the TV series and then, of course, the books as well. So when I heard there was going to be a new stage production I was very excited.

However it struck me that the producers had a difficult task ahead of them, for a number of reasons. Firstly the majority of the audience were bound to be big Wodehouse fans who had read the stories several times and therefore already knew, if not the whole story, at least the major plot points. Secondly I can't have been the only one who had been introduced to the characters via the TV series starring Fry & Laurie. Even years later and having read all the books, whenever I watch it I'm struck by just how perfect the casting was, it almost seems as if PG Wodehouse had written the parts explicitly for Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

So how were the production team going to keep those who already know the plot entertained while also preventing people from comparing Matthew Mcfadyen and Stephen Mangan to Fry & Laurie? Well of course I can't answer that as that would be giving the game away, but trust me they do it in a very ingenious way. What I can say is that while Mangan is perhaps not quite as plummy as Wooster ought to be (his plumminess did waver a bit during the evening) he does the wide-eyed goofy, innocent look very well and is a bumbling, lovable fool. While Matthew Mcfadyen is probably best known for playing dramatic roles he was excellent and even had a few surprises up his sleeve... I daren't say anymore then that! Of course the main focus is on the two leads but special mention should also be given to Mark Hadfield as Seppings.

Photo by Uli Weber
I hope my somewhat vague review has not come off sounding at all negative as while, for me, Jeeves & Wooster will always look and sound like Fry & Laurie, last night was a giggle filled evening. The two leads were both fabulous and the production was very well done, so it should please Wodehouse fans and hopefully introduce these two classic characters to a new audience as well. Yes I was shocked to discover that there are people in the world who haven't heard of Jeeves & Wooster, the heathens!

The play will be on at the Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday 26th October, I believe there are a limited number of seats available so get in quick. After Brighton the play will move on to the West End. Don't forget to let us know what you think of it.


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