Now this is a romp to remember. I actually saw it twice, the second time during my March-stay in London’s West End, just because.
First of all it’s Matthew Macfadyen. We all know him as somber, earnest, the weight of the world on his shoulders. But what his TV-roles don’t show is his impeccable sense of timing, his deep rooted humor and his quirky physicality. Yes, Jeeves and Wooster is all about Wooster telling the audience about his shenanigans in his London club and amongst his equally bored and rich friends. But it is Jeeves (and Macfadyen incorporating the gentleman’s gentleman as well as numerous other characters during the course of the show) that is carrying the show and doing most of the work. Including the fabrication of most of the set, much to the delight of Wooster.
The show goes back to the incredibly successful books about Jeeves and Wooster, manages to incorporate the audience by tearing down the “fourth wall” by having an audience member hide the stolen policeman’s helmet and actually talking to members to get approval etc. and is a brilliant successor of old style slapstick comedies.
With only three actors, and only two of them playing multiple parts, hilarious chaos ensues over the course of the play, as Wooster tries to stay unmarried and Jeeves saves the day over and over again.
It is already brilliant when Macfadyen dons a mop-like white wig to play the scorned maid’s father, complete with pipe-and-mustache – , AND the lovely daughter in question as well, in a dress and hastily applied lipstick. But when those two characters actually have to appear on stage at the same time and he then “splits” being half man, half girl with half wigs and clothes – that’s when I determined I had to see the play twice as I couldn’t understand everything he said, I was laughing so hard. Add to that his portrayal of hapless half blind best friend Gussie Fink-Nottle with bottle bottom thick glasses, who hides under the bed and climbs out of windows and overall adds to the chaos already present, breathing became optional for me.
Safe to say the play and Stephen Mangan, Mark Hadfield (who plays Wooster’s elderly aunt as well as the Nemesis and a shopkeeper and a trainstation) and Matt Macfadyen are a brilliant piece of awesomeness, especially with this cast.
Now I have seen this play twice in the matinees, and both time almost fell off my chair, when – at the end of the narrative – Bertie Wooster says, with mock panic in his eyes: Do we have to do that all again tonight???? Only to then get up, get in line with Macfadyen and Hadfield and do a rowdie jig in perfect synch that is also their farewell to their audience. It’s absolutely brilliant. And I so understand that they don’t come out in between shows.
stage-door: just one thing: Matthew Macfadyen is tall. really tall. hugely tall. and barely recognisable with his charming smile and modern haircut 😉 – he also has a very VERY nice voice – and he really is TALL!