REVIEW: By Jeeves is best birthday party for Bowness theatre

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THE Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness is 25 years old – and Bertram Wooster is throwing a party to celebrate.

Bertram – call him Bertie, all his friends do – is taking to the intimate stage to dazzle his audience with an evening of his uniquely-talented banjo playing. All for charity – the TGB&S do such good work. It really isn't to be missed.

A certain Alan Ayckbourn, a long-time friend of Mr Wooster and of the Old Laundry, has turned his talents to helping out, writing and directing a show which is sure to raucously entertain those lucky enough to get a seat.

Actually, he did the writing part for By Jeeves – alongside a certain composer by the name of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber – more than 40 years ago, long before the Old Laundry was even a glint in the eye of Roger Scott and his wife Charlotte.

It took 20 years, and a rewrite after an initial flop under the title of just Jeeves, for the show to catch on, but anyone taking one of the 200 seats inside the Bowness theatre during its four-week run will be glad they persevered.

Ahead of the birthday celebrations at the Old Laundry, and a special performance of the show, Ayckbourn spoke warmly of the show and the theatre.

“We intended it then as we intend it now, as more than a play, as a party,” he said. There was certainly a festive feeling among those of us taking it all in over two-and-a-half hours with never a flat note or a let-up in mirth and merriment.

The humour is farcical, slapstick, lyrical and musical, if you leave without a smile on your face, you really out to check there was not an overdose of Botox in your last treatment.

Sufficed to say, Bertie (Nadim Naaman, last seen in the revival of the Phantom of the Opera in the West End) and his plans for a one-man banjo masterclass do not go exactly to plan, but he is fortunate to have the titular Jeeves (Bill Champion) and a host of his friends on hand to help.

PG Wodehouse never got to see how his creations manifested themselves on stage, though he would surely have approved of how Messrs Ayckbourn and Lloyd Webber render them into brilliant life.

Bertie really does deserve your support. As do the TGB&S. Oh, and the Old Laundry. Support from supporters such as yourself can help ensure their wonderful work and support can continue.

By Jeeves runs at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness, until Saturday, November 4.

Friday, October 13, 2017 at 11:36AM
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