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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Review: Birthday at the Royal Court

Stephen Mangan and Lisa Dillon. Photo by Jay Brooks

Stories about motherhood and babies are not rare, but still it seems that lately I have seen 3 or 4 plays and films about new or expecting mothers. (And no, I didn’t see What To Expect When You Are Expecting). Most of them talk about mothers who can’t be away from their babies. The one that rang the most true was the new mother who was desperate for a night out. Either way, Birthday, a new play by Joe Penhall, directed by Roger Michell, came to fill a gap in those stories: what happens during the 24 hours around child birth. Even if this child birth is not the traditional kind.

To say much more would spoil it, all you need to know is that Ed (played by Stephen Mangan) and Lisa (played by Lisa Dillon) are at the hospital expecting their second child. Labour has been induced, nerves are frayed, the miracle of birth looks more like a horror film and no one else seems to understand how serious the situation is. Continue reading