WHAT ho, Jeeves! PG Wodehouse at the King’s less than a week after the bally Jocks sent enough Nats South to sink a flotilla of eights on Old Father Thames?
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Indeed, sir, it’s just a pity more of the locals weren’t there to witness such performance perfection as that of Messrs Thorpe, Webb and Ryan.
And indeed the King’s felt very empty as the curtain went up on this riotous farce, based on the popular Wodehouse novels, that was a smash hit in the West End two years ago.
The multi-character roles of Jason Thorpe, primarily as Jeeves, and Christopher Ryan, built around fellow manservant Seppings, spin around Robert Webb’s Wooster in a spiffing send-up of the mannerisms of the feckless pre-War English landed gentry.
But as the humorist who famously compared Scots with a grievance to a ray of sunshine, Wodehouse appreciation is a minority interest up here, which is a real shame because this show is a cracking display of slapstick theatre-craft, brilliant set design, energetically entertaining performances and a tight, extremely clever but gentle script.
As the title suggests, the detail of the storyline doesn’t really matter and while it’s not face-achingly funny there is no doubting the pure entertainment value of the painstaking execution and split-second timing as the madcap plot unfolds.
With his looks normally set at dead-pan, Webb’s physical comedy is all the more effective, as lugubrious expressions burst across his face with every plot twist and his nifty footwork is worthy of the Strictly final.
Christopher Ryan, better known as Mike of The Young Ones, and Jason Thorpe birl their way through breathless costume changes and plot complexities, Thorpe benefitting from playing the droll Jeeves is able to squeeze out the laughs by playing off his core role with the eccentricity of his other parts.
Audience interaction is a key element of the show and the good news is if you want to be part of it before the run ends on Saturday there should be no problem.
Run ends Saturday