It’s not easy to pull off physical comedy, especially on stage where there are no retakes or body doubles. But when done right, it can be one of the most hilarious forms of the genre. If there’s one play that has managed to hit the nail on the head, it’s Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.
Bertie Wooster (Matthew Carter) decides to put on a one-man show where he takes us through an exciting couple of days in his life. But Wooster, being Wooster, forgets the little things you need to stage a play. Things like a set, and giving the audience a background story. Fortunately, he has the inimitable Jeeves (Joseph Chance) to help him out. What follows is a whirlwind tale about the incidents at Totleigh Towers, narrated by Jeeves, Wooster and Seppings (Robert Goodale).
As is apparent from its name, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense finds the comedy in chaos. And it does this well. Though a certain amount of this chaos does come from the sub-plots, the real comedy comes from each character’s portrayal of multiple people in the story. This makes for a laugh riot, especially for fans of meta humor.
Thankfully, director David Goodale could not have picked a better cast to do this. Each actor portraying a character who’s playing four other characters sounds like a recipe for disaster. But Joseph Chance, Matthew Carter and Robert Goodale are spectacular in (all of) their respective parts. In fact, their performances will make you forget that there are just three actors on stage… Until the self-referential jokes begin, that is.
The play has been superbly acted and directed, but it would be a crime not to acknowledge Alice Power’s fantastic work on the set. Though it starts off extremely minimalistic, the sets go on to become more detailed and grander than ever. The play also benefits from James Farncombe’s work on the lighting. It doesn’t take someone with technical know-how to see that the play has remarkable lighting design. A "slow-motion" scene, in particular, might just be one of the most breathtaking and hilarious scenes we’ve ever seen on stage.
All things considered, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is the ideal treat for fans of P. G. Wodehouse. The play depicts his most iconic characters with a remarkable accuracy, making fans fall in love with them all over again. And those who aren’t already familiar with Wodehouse’s work? They couldn’t have asked for a better introduction!