SHOW: Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense
DIRECTOR: Stephen Stead
CAST: Jonathan Roxmouth, Graham Hopkins and Robert Fridjhon
VENUE: Theatre On The Bay until November 8
REVIEW: PETER TROMP
Sometimes you just need some silliness in your life. You could make a pretty convincing argument that ‘Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense’ has almost no substance, but then again that’s probably the point of the whole enterprise.
It is the kind of show where you are invited to really let your hair down and luxuriate in the zany antics of a bunch of characters that really do belong to a time and place that has no relation in the slightest to the present. But that’s also what makes it such perfect escapist fodder.
‘Perfect Nonsense’ comes off the back of a remarkable series of international dramatic plays that was staged at Theatre On The Bay, so the decision to go for something light-hearted – an irreverent palate cleanser, if you will – makes sense.
That being said, P.G. Wodehouse’s low stakes, comedic tales of the idle English elite circa the early 20th century – a time when a thing such as a silver cow creamer was evidently in vogue – will undoubtedly not be everyone’s cup of tea. The retrograded-ness on display will just strike some as I can certainly live with ‘Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense’ just being a fun, cleverly designed and satisfyingly executed show. When you got the lot of Jonathan Roxmouth, Robert Fridjhon and Graham Hopkins practically just mucking about, well, how can you go wrong?
That they make the highly choreographed mucking about look so effortless are among the numerous pleasures to be found in Stephen Stead’s production. Hopkins especially is a total lark as a bunch of characters that couldn’t be more dissimilar.
One moment he’s prancing around in a summer frock as a frivolous, romance obsessed young adult; the next he’s all stern servitude as the almost humorously overly capable Jeeves. It’s all great fun.
Sure enough, ‘Perfect Nonsense’ doesn’t amount to much intellectually, but it’s got a casual enough feel without appearing in any way slapdash, to actually – and miraculously – make one forget about the turbulences of our current times for an hour or two, and that’s pretty nifty. I have seen many obnoxious productions that set out to enchant and tickle your funny bone, but are so intent on reminding you all along the way that you’re having a good time that you actually end up not being able to relax and just enjoy the show. ‘Perfect Nonsense’ gets the balance right.
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