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Theatre Review: Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

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A night of light-hearted comedy was the perfect remedy for a drizzly November evening here in Southampton, and what better than a production of Jeeves and Wooster to lighten the mood.

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is an innovative and charming production that is brought to life by an excellent cast and wonderful venue in the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.

Bertie Wooster, the production’s protagonist, could easily be despised on paper with his posh, rich and oblivious nature. However, James Lance brings the classic character to life in such an endearing fashion that it is rather difficult to do anything but laugh along with him as he attempts to bring to life a rather elaborate anecdote about his Aunt Dahlia and a cow shaped cream dispenser.

The meta-theatre set up of the production is what brings it to life; we, as the audience feel entirely part of Wooster’s attempt to put together a stage production of these incidents, right down to the hilarious audience participation at the end of the show as a member of the front row aided Wooster in his plan. However, all would be lost without the help of his butler Jeeves and fellow manservant Seppings. While Wooster only has to worry about his own lines, stating that ‘this acting malarkey is rather easy!’ as the star of the show, Seppings and Jeeves scramble around in the background in charge of scenery, props, sound effects and doubling up as numerous other characters, male and female. There is one brilliantly comic scene that is worth noting, in which Seppings, played by Robert Goodale, must ride a bike on the side of stage to spin the set around. The trio work so well together that this dramatised anecdote turns into a well choreographed production.

True to the source material, the characterisation of the unflappable Jeeves calming meeting every one of his master’s extortionate requests, even the aforementioned revolving stage, is so well executed by the fabulous John Gordon Sinclair that the production, despite being in 2014, still remains in line with the original P.G. Wodehouse stories. Goodale and Sinclair steal the show with their fantastic performances that hilariously bring the realities of amatuer theatre production to life. They both brilliantly manage the ultimate doubling trick of leaving the stage as one character and returning to the stage as another. Those interested in the behind the scenes element of the production will be interested to know that as well as appearing bang on the source material, Perfect Nonsense was adapted for the stage by brothers Robert and David Goodale (Robert playing Seppings), from The Code of the Woosters, with the blessing of the Wodehouse estate.

Overall the Olivier Award-winning production of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is well worth heading along to see. If times are hard at work and you feel you really need cheering up, this is the show for you. The light-hearted and charming classic comedy in Perfect Nonsense will keep you smiling from ear to ear into the night.


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