Duke of York’s Theatre
Until Sat Sep 20 2014
© Francis Loney
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Wed Nov 13 2013
The chinless charms of Bertie Wooster are almost a century old now, but in a country run by public schoolboys with the blood of the Bullingdon Club flowing in their veins he feels alarmingly contemporary. None of them, of course, would be caught stealing a policeman’s helmet for high japes these days, nor indeed would they profess themselves to be at the mercy of maiden aunts, yet in a London presided over by Boris Johnson it could be argued we are all living the Wodehouse dream.
Yet it’s not politics that marks this show’s razor-sharp ingenuity, but physical comedy and extremely funny coups de théâtre designed to disarm even the most hardened class warrior. ‘Perfect Nonsense’ is directed by Sean Foley, who just over a decade ago presented the highly successful Morecambe and Wise tribute ‘The Play What I Wrote’. Little coincidence that that too was an extremely successful assembly of inspired silliness, exaggerated physical comedy and knowing theatrical sleights of hand − a showcase for comedy at its purest, whose charms were strongly dependent on the ingenuity of the performers.
As an actor who, among his many achievements, has pretended to give birth on stage, Stephen Mangan has already demonstrated his ability to make the absurd compelling. As Wooster he has the audience in the palm of his hand from the start of the evening. The absurd jutting of the teeth, the constipated horse’s laugh, the what-ho enthusiasm compounded by eyebrows with a life of their own − this is all part of the armoury of his accomplished comic performance.
Jeeves of course is the ultimate straight man, and Matthew Macfadyen plays the role with suitable aplomb. The conceit underlying the evening is that Wooster is telling us the story of a frightful incident involving his old pal Gussie Fink Nottle and his disastrous engagement to the ‘droopy soupy sentimental’ Madeleine Bassett. Newts, cow creamers and, of course, testosterone-fuelled maiden aunts are all part of the comic equation − and the theatrical delight is that Jeeves, Wooster and a butler pal of Jeeves’s called Seppings must perform all the roles themselves.
If you’re not seduced by the combination of Mangan’s goggle- eyed Wooster, Macfadyen’s artfully icy Jeeves and Mark Hadfield’s embodiment of everything from aggressive aunts to overgrown amateur fascists, then you need to check you’ve still got a funnybone. It looks like Foley is in danger of having another hit on his hands.
By Rachel Halliburton
Duke of York’s Theatre 104 St Martin’s Lane
- Event phone:
0844 871 3051
- Event website:
Theatre. West End. Drama
Perfect Nonsense 2013 - 2014
- Date Time Price information
Thu Dec 1919:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Fri Dec 2019:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Sat Dec 2114:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min19:30
Mon Dec 2319:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Tue Dec 2419:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Wed Dec 2514:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min19:30
Thu Dec 2619:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Fri Dec 2719:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Sat Dec 2814:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min19:30
Mon Dec 3019:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min
Tue Dec 3119:30£15-£80. Runs 2hrs 10min