‘What are you doing here?’
‘I’ve come to interview the director of Jeeves and Wooster.’
‘That is literally the most Oxford thing I have ever heard.’
No matter, I was in.
I met Olly Jackson and the cast and crew of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense during their tech rehearsal on Tuesday, entering a world of frenetic activity not dissimilar to my perilous cycle up to find them at the LMH Simpkins Lee Theatre.
On the subject of costumes, Bertie – played by Joseph Stephenson – had this to say: ‘Mainly tweed for the first half… bit of velvet… a little bit of close nudity. Come for the nudity, stay for the Wodehouse.’ Having come for the Wodehouse, I stayed for the nudity and was treated almost immediately to a run-through of the bath scene, Joseph being both fantastically funny and remarkably good at inhabiting an as-yet undelivered bath.
This is the first authorised student production of Perfect Nonsense, which premiered in 2013 and is notable for its three man cast, a fact which director Olly Jackson tells me hasn’t strained any relationships:
‘Joe, do you still like me?’
‘So the cast have started lying, but otherwise it’s going well.’
From what I saw in my hour with them, this is not a production to miss and the Simpkins Lee in its homely grandeur is the perfect venue. Olly tells me ‘The only thing I can read in Oxford is Wodehouse’ – indeed for those who know Wodehouse its humour is no biting social commentary, but in sixth week a bit of escapism, a ‘comfort read and a comfort watch’, is pretty much the nub of what you need. Jeeves – Jonny Wiles – tells me ‘I’ve just come from The Nether’, so light relief all round.
It’s Olly Jackson’s final play in Oxford: ‘I actually cancelled three tutes this week… I have feigned two illnesses. I’m sure I’ll develop them as a result.’
I ask Joseph for a final plug: ‘Come… to see what’s underneath this tweed.’
Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is on at the Simpkins Lee Theatre, opening last night with productions on Thursday and Friday, and two on Saturday. Get your tickets here: