Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian // theadelaidian.net/author/georgina-tselekidis
Enter the wacky and comedic world of Jeeves and Wooster
Who would have thought that the hunt for an antique silver cow creamer jug would be such a hilarious whirlwind journey? Jeeves and Wooster are back again in their larger than life performance Perfect Nonsense, that was a hit on London's West End and is now gracing the stage for a short while at Her Majesty's Theatre. Many may recognise the tales of Jeeves and Wooster from the British comedy-drama series adapted by Clive Exton from P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves" stories. The series starred Hugh Lawrie as the aristocratic yet dim-witted bachelor Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as Bertie's go-to butler, Jeeves.
Their adventure begins when Matthew Carter as Wooster sets the scene as he unfolds his story, with Jeeves played by Joseph Chance to correct Wooster's clumsy memory. The beginning seems like a strange set-up - not your average production that separates the audience from the performance, as the fourth wall is immediately broken to make us a part of their onstage journey. In fact, the performance is actually a reenactment of what's already happened, heightened in an incredibly wacky, offbeat yet fun way that is a crowd-pleaser, to say the least.
From the get go, sounds of laughter arise amongst the crowd, only to increase as the show goes on. Relying on Wooster's memory, we're taken along the hunt for an antique cow creamer that his aunt Dahlia wants so much, as do many others. In the meantime, he is blackmailed and brought into many other scenarios that make Perfect Nonsense such a fun production with a dramatic and slap-stick quality. Although the play comprises only three actors onstage to portray a variety of characters, there's never a dull moment as each character brings a special quality to each of their scenes.
Matthew Carter as Wooster presents the play and stays in character the whole time. Yet his other counterparts, Jeeves and butler Seppings, transform into many other characters that give Perfect Nonsense such an unrivaled edge. Co-writer and actor Robert Goodale as Seppings, also plays Auntie Dahlia and the hysterically amusing Roderick Spode, who is without a doubt a highlight of the production. Joseph Chance as Jeeves makes some incredible transitions to and from characters including Sir Watkin Basset, Gussie Fink-Nottle and the vivacious Stephanie, where we see Chance truly shine as he steps right into female character.
Highly animated and lighthearted would be two descriptions for Perfect Nonsense, staying to true PG Wodehouse's best stories and one in particular, The Code of the Woosters. Additionally, the stories are revamped, offering a comedic performance to suit all ages despite the classic Edwardian English upper class genre. However, in Perfect Nonsense it seems as though it's almost satirized with a slap-stick approach.
Worth noting is the backdrop and set design that manages to change continuously as the story unfolds into diverse scenarios. What makes it even more appealing is that the characters are in charge of moving things around to establish the setting as they retell Wooster's tale, which heightens the ways in which the actors break the fourth wall to interact with the audience. As the sets change from Bertie's living room, Auntie Dahlia's house, and an antique store to various other backdrops, the audience is immersed in the fictional world of Jeeves and Wooster. This is also achieved through the costume changes. This old-world era sadly comes to an end as the performance closes, taking us back to reality after being a part of Jeeves and Wooster's entertaining lives.
Perfect Nonsense was the winner of Best New Comedy at the 2014 Olivier Awards, and I can definitely see why. Be sure to visit the Adelaide Festival Centre for more information or to purchase your tickets for an evening of laughter and 'theatrical absurdity'. Perfect Nonsense is playing until September 3 at Her Majesty's Theatre.