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Blog: Perfect Nonsense

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On Friday in Sheffield Mr S Hewitt and I were having a DEAD INTELLECTUAL conversation about The Theatre, during which I posited the idea that yr West End Musical is the true successor to Music Hall i.e. it is a big FUN, also COMMERICAL, entertainment that Actual People LIKE, rather than the subsidised theatre which is - according to ME at least - largely a bit annoying and boring.

I had a chance to test my theory almost immediately as on Saturday The Cast In My Play and I were off to the West End to see Perfect Nonsense, the new Jeeves & Wooster adaptation starring Stephen Mangan, Matthew Macfadyen and Mark Hadfield. We bought the tickets AGES ago, as we both love PG Wodehouse and thought it might be something to look forward to after getting the MOVE all sorted out.

I went hoping to enjoy it - I LOVED the Fry & Laurie show, but then thought last year's Blandings Castle adaptation was awful, so you never know. I expected it to be a pretty straight adaptation, as it has been on telly, sort of like a nice calm PLAY or Gentle Farce. It wasn't like that at all!

The general idea, it turned out, was that someone had told Bertie Wooster his stories were good enough to be on the stage, so he'd decided to give it a go. THUS it began with him trying to tell the story alone but quickly having to call Jeeves on to help out. Jeeves then got another butler to fill in the spare parts and, as the show went on, he BUILT the set. This meant there was a lot of costume changes between them, a lot of Prop Comedy, and a LOT of Titting About.

If this seems EERILY FAMILIAR to the sort of Showing Off me and Steve have been doing then you will not be surprised to find that I thought it was BLOODY GRATE. We LARFED and LARFED all the way through, sometimes because of the WORDS (one big advantage of having Bertie sort-of "narrate" the show was that he could get in LOADS of PG Wodehouse's hilarious authorial descriptions), sometimes because of the ACTION, and often because of the all-round good time daftness of it all. Even now, several days later, I keep getting reminded of bits of it, and LARFING some more.

When we came out, faces aching with grinning, I said that it had reminded me a LOT of Morecambe & Wise, with the warmth, the daftness, the slickness masquerading as near-chaos, and of course the PROPS. I love BOTH PG Wodehouse and Eric & Ern, but I wouldn't have ever thought of putting them together, and it worked surprisingly well. I was thus PLEASED when I got home to find out it had been directed by Sean Foley, who'd previously done "The Play What I Wrote", which was ABOUT Morecambe & Wise. HA! Well done BRANE!

It was a GRATE night out, the most I've laughed at a show since we went to see Pappy's last year, and made me agree with... er... myself that your big West End Production has the potential to be EXCELLENT. Now, what shall we go and see next?

posted 28/1/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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