Monday, March 03, 2008

Jeeves Intervenes: A Play from First Folio

When the eager-to-wed Gertrude Winklesworth-Bode thinks that you have potential (i.e. you are spineless, defenseless, and malleable to her designs), you need someone with a bit of gray matter to save your sweaty neck. When Sir Rupert Watlington-Pipps is threatening to cut off your allowance and send you to the jute farms of India, you need someone with a talent for strategy. If you are Bertie Wooster and his pathetic friend Eustice Bassington-Bassington (pronounced baa-sington bay-sington), you turn to the greatest of British superheroes - (pause for dramatic effect) - Jeeves.

Based loosely on the P. G. Wodehouse short story "Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg," Jeeves Intervenes is classic comic theater. Bonnie and I attended a very intimate performance of the First Folio Shakespeare Festival performance on Friday night at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois. The stage was set for the six-character play in the old estate's wood-paneled library. With the stage at one end of the room and risers wall-to-wall, about eighty were seated for the play. Always smart, Bonnie had gotten our tickets in advance online. There were no empty seats.

The entire cast was top drawer. I think we had seen all of them in other First Folio productions. We were laughing nearly the moment the lights went up. Jim McCance as Jeeves calmly stepped forward with solutions to impossible problems just in the nick of time. Christian Gray was just the wastrel that Bertie should be, and Kevin McKillip was hilarious as his dim-witted friend Eustace.

I would recommend that you go, but the last performance was yesterday. What I can recommend is that you try other First Folio productions, especially the summer Shakespeare performances. We've been going for years.

You can find the original "Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg" online at Classic Reader.

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