first night

Come on Jeeves

Felix Hawlin finds Ooook!'s production of 'Come on Jeeves' to be a tremendous evening of comedy


As the ghost of old Aunt Agatha bangs along the ancient hallways of Towcester Abbey, supressed giggles are muffled throughout the Assembly Rooms theatre. When eventually she enters the scene (resplendent in a ghostly white frock) to a crash, a bang, and a whimper from Lord Towcester and Captain Biggar and is revealed to be Jeeves, the mild mannered Butler, the entire audience erupts into uncontrollable laughter, followed by a hefty round of applause.

This is just one of an entire plays worth of excellent gags in this tremendous drawing room comedy from Ooook! Productions. Jake Goldman is our leading Butler, with an understated wit, which pervades the entire play. An absolutely excellent cast follows: particularly brilliant is Andrew Shires as Lord Carmoyle, who’s endlessly amusing and unusual facial expressions provide perhaps the most regular comedy of the evening (which in a play co-written by P.G. Wodehouse is saying an awful lot). The bumbling Lord Towcester (Hamish Inglis) makes an excellently hopeless member of the aristocracy. Particularly when up against the rhino-hunting, empire defending Captain Biggar (John Healstead) both parts shine; the fearful in an amusing interplay with the testosterone fuelled Captain. Savy Des-Etages is wonderful as a wealthy American attempting to buy the Abbey. Playing off the reserved Englishness of the rest of the cast, she performs with aplomb and a strikingly good accent. Perhaps almost as impressive is her pet, Pomona the Dog, (whose real name I am informed is Fizz Thomas) who as well as being excellently well behaved throughout the play, is also very cute.

The set for the dilapidated castle is very good indeed. When at first I saw peeling wallpaper and a half painted cornice I was worried, however, these proved to be delights in what should be a decrepit old mansion. Where in other productions a falling curtain rail would be seen as a failure, here it proved an ingenious comic device. Tasteful details, such as a genuine 1920s phone or wireless, lend the set an unassumed authenticity, which allow the audience to be taken over by the performances.

The direction is similarly elegant. Particularly as the play reaches its climax the challenges of keeping everything clear as multiple comedic storylines overlap and the entire cast gathers onstage are handled well. There are, naturally, occasional flaws (which feel pedantic to point out) In the first act, performers occasionally needed to leave time for the audience to laugh, as some lines were lost under the giggles of the auditorium. However, soon warming up and beginning to relish the comedy, this ceased to be a problem entirely. Similarly one could look at (very) occasionally forgotten lines, a single misplaced sound cue, and a cigarette lighter which either requires more fluid or more practice from its users. However, these did not in any way stifle this excellent production, and I am sure will be resolved by the time you, dear reader, see this excellent production.

And see it you should! This production produced laughter from start to finish with some truly excellent performances that are not to be missed. I look forward to seeing what Ooook! has to offer us next. 

7 November 2014

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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