Review: Jeeves and Wooster – Perfect Nonsense (aka Jeeves and Wooster the play) at the Duke of York’s

Matthew Macfadyen as Jeeves, Stephen Mangan as Wooster

Matthew Macfadyen as Jeeves, Stephen Mangan as Wooster

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter?'” “The mood will pass, sir.”

Theatrical ambition takes many shapes but producing the perfect unrepetant frivolity could well be the most daunting (and one could argue the most honourable) undertaking. Director Sean Foley and writers Robert and David Goodale don’t shy away from the challenge and they declare their intentions right from the start: adapting P G Woodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters for the stage, they call it “Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense”. And you know what? It may well be. That’s high praise from me.

The plot of the book remains largely intact but the conceit of the production finds Wooster putting a play up himself in order to tell the story. This allows for theatrical playfulness to bubble up to the surface. Expectations are challenged, subtle dynamics unsettled, props and scenery manipulated to reveal, hide and distract from the artifice. This is the second time this year when a production teases the notion of the same person playing two characters while both characters appear in the story at the same time. (The Trelawny of the Wells at the Donmar played in the same sandbox earlier in the year).

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