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Review: Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense (The Goodale Brothers)

 Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

“Indeed, sir.”

P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster are given a renewed lease on life by The Goodale Brothers in Perfect Nonsense, fresh from its run on London’s West End.

Alice Power’s delight-filled set design, and the introduction of each element of the design as it comes into play, provides an excellent accompaniment to Sean Foley’s marvellous comic direction, delivered with exquisite choreography by John Gordon Sinclair, James Lance and Robert Goodale. Yes, that is one of the aforementioned Goodale brothers! All three actors are each superb in their physicality and characterisation.

Lance, Sinclair and Goodale each deserve praise for the physicality they employ to hilarious comic effect; ne’er a moment when there isn’t raucous laughter throughout the auditorium, and much of the time the old tricks really do prove to be the best! There are even gramophone scratches on the soundtrack, which adds texture to the performance setting. Power’s design delighted the audience even further when the stage revealed a revolve, and like with every other detail of the performance, it is how that comes into effect and why. Jeeves would recommend that I refrain from drawing attention to the theatrical devices though, and I will respect his polite suggestion for if you were to go see this production then I would not want to give anything away!

For the benefit of storytelling, Bertie Wooster’s one-man show very quickly becomes a three-man effort, with Sinclair as Jeeves and Goodale as Seppings both taking on the roles of the numerous other characters that Wooster encounters and interacts with. Inevitably Goodale and Sinclair must overcome the challenges of multi-rolling; playing Seppings and Jeeves portraying these other characters, leading to many surprising and entertaining entrances due to their admirably quick costume changes! Beautifully choreographed to perfection, the characters of Seppings and Jeeves’ improvise their scenes to Wooster’s narration; of particular note towards the end of the play is the conversation between Sir Watkyn Bassett and Stephanie ‘Stiffy’ Byng, both portrayed by Sinclair as Jeeves.

The remarkable display of physical comic performance from this triple act is so wonderfully in sync and their attention to detail is magnificent; every action, no matter how minute, gets a reaction from at least one of the other two actors. Much chortling from the audience from beginning to end, this outing from Jeeves and Wooster is a resounding success. Lance’s newt impression as Bertie Wooster will certainly have me chuckling for some time to come.

Mark Goucher & Mark Rubinstein present Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, a new play adapted from the works of P. G. Wodehouse by the Goodale brothers and directed by Sean Foley, currently touring the UK. TM


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