It was with not a little trepidation that I went on a Sunday afternoon to see the Stables Theatre production of Jeeves and Wooster - writes Margaret Blurton.
Three men and a silly script, much old hat and frock-nickery, how could this be made to work? Shall we ask director Chris Lacey how he achieved the singular feat of pulling it off so dashingly well?
Our three protagonists, Bertie Wooster (Stuart Miller), Jeeves (Rob Hustwayte) and Seppings (Johnny Magnanti), assisted Mr. Lacey by proving simply magnificent. Cow-creamer capers, notebook nonsense, Black Shorts blackguards, all were despatched with aplomb by the trio of talented thespians. Although there were elements of audience acknowledgement, for the most part the antics were maintained in the moment and taken quite as seriously as the situation demanded, much to the benefit of the general comic effect. Jeeves’ unwavering serenity was the foil to Wooster’s exuberance; Seppings was all things to all men (and women), as if it came naturally to him. Outfits were donned and doffed alongside mannerisms, amongst which was notable the two-character tailoring (specialist costume design: Julia Dance) allowing Jeeves simultaneously to be Stiffy Byng and himself.
A Jeeves-like attention to detail was evident in this production. The music (sound design: Dave Rowlands) jollied us up at all the correct moments, and was jolly well quiet when not needed. Sound cues were impeccable. Likewise the lighting, headed up by Jonathan Richardson.
Initially, one feared that there would not be much to write about the set, consisting of one peerlessly placed chair. Jeeves, or in actual fact set designer Ian Morson, came up trumps before long, with an inventive series of backdrops, completed by machinery with which to propel them back and forth – the scenery bicycle will not soon be forgotten. Top marks to the thirteen+ members of the set construction team. Although undeniably understandable, the desire to use this gag to the full led to perhaps one cycling scenist too far?
Overall, this was a ridiculously credible comedy, frothing with fun, bubbling with boyish humour and neither modern nor Dutch. I say, the 2016 season got off to a splendid start, old thing, what?
There are still performances of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense tonight (Friday) and Saturday February 13 at 7.30pm - book online at www.stablestheatre.co.uk or call 01424 423221, tickets priced at £13 (groups and under-18s £10, Stables members £8)
Audiences for Jeeves and Wooster have been the first to enjoy the auditorium’s new seats – all 126 of which have been replaced to improve comfort in the theatre. The Stables has also invested in a new booking system – allowing people to choose their seats when they book online.
Director Chris Lacey said: “We put on 10 of our own shows every year as well as a programme of guest productions.
We are proud of the fact that The Stables is run entirely by volunteers – meaning we are able to invest every penny back into this wonderful community asset.
“As well as the new seating, a team of volunteers gave up their time last month to replace the ceiling and lighting in the auditorium, and we also finished replacing the roof tiles.
“So thanks are due to our volunteer box office, front of house, bar and catering, backstage and technical crews, who work extremely hard to ensure our visitors enjoy a professional standard theatre experience.
“We are always looking for new volunteers, so if you would like to help in any capacity we would be delighted to hear from you.”