Jeepers Creepers

Theatre, Fringe
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 (© Steve Ullathorne)
1/4
© Steve Ullathorne

David Boyle (Marty Feldan) and Rebecca Vaughan (Lauretta Feldman) in 'Jeepers Creepers'.

 (© Steve Ullathorne)
2/4
© Steve Ullathorne

David Boyle (Marty Feldan) and Rebecca Vaughan (Lauretta Feldman) in 'Jeepers Creepers'.

 (© Steve Ullathorne)
3/4
© Steve Ullathorne

David Boyle (Marty Feldman) and Rebecca Vaughan (Lauretta Feldman) in 'Jeepers Creepers'.

 (© Steve Ullathorne)
4/4
© Steve Ullathorne

David Boyle (Marty Feldan) and Rebecca Vaughan (Lauretta Feldman) in 'Jeepers Creepers'.

Terry Jones directs this patchy look at comedy star Marty Feldman's crumbling marriage.

If you didn’t know who Marty Feldman was before watching biographical play ‘Jeepers Creepers’, you’d still be clueless about the ’70s comedian at the end.  

The play follows the career of the former BBC actor after his move to Hollywood to appear in Mel Brooks’s ‘Young Frankenstein’ movie in the ‘70s. It ends with his death aged 48 a few years later, with the action never leaving the bedroom of Marty and his wife Lauretta (changing sheets represent changing times). It’s obviously a labour of love. Written by Marty’s biographer Robert Ross and directed by Python and friend of Feldman Terry Jones, the script is dense with facts and anecdotes about his life. While doubtless fascinating to a super fan, it feels gossipy and implausible to more casual viewers, and often plain boring. 

The performance features just two actors: David Boyle as Marty and Rebecca Vaughn as Lauretta, fighting in vain to wring emotion and humour from the dry script. There’s an abiding sense that the writers are inclined to forgive Marty’s behaviour – drinking, cheating and treating his wife with disdain – because it inspires his art. The play attempts to critique the quest for perfection and using humour to hide insecurity, however it’s really just the tale of loving an awful man. 

Lauretta’s written in two dimensions, shown only in a nightdress or holding a Vogue. Ambitious and money-focused, her chat seems to exist only as a foil to Marty’s self-absorbed monologues. Ultimately though, Marty is so dislikeable that Lauretta feels positively charming by contrast, adding dramatic weight to her moments of hysteria. 

The physical comedy is better. Vaughn races through cigarettes over the course of the evening and Boyle makes a convincing drunk. By the end of the play, however, you can only agree with Lauretta that ‘the only thing worse than being a comedian is being married to one.’

By: Kate Lloyd

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