Review – ‘Jeeves Intervenes’ at Sonoma Arts Live By Alexa Chipman
Slapstick British comedy turns a sophisticated 1920s bachelor pad into a tangled web of intricate deceit for a worthy cause. Bertram Wilberforce Wooster “Bertie” is living the high life, playing indoor polo with umbrellas, rising quite late in the morning, and teasing his friend Eustace “Bassy” regarding his penchant for rushed love affairs. Their antics are disturbed when Aunt Agatha arrives in London, determined that Bertie will settle down with the correct wife, who will mold him properly. Aghast at such a dreadful prospect, Bertie intends to flee, when his friend requests help with stodgy Sir Rupert, who is considering sending the unfortunate young man to work for his living, which is simply not done. All seems lost until the unflappable valet, Jeeves, expertly maneuvers the situation to everyone’s advantage, including his own.
Based on P.G. Wodehouse’s stories and adapted by Margaret Raether, Jeeves is the central pivot of the ensemble, hovering with omniscient inspiration. Randy St. Jean is poised in the role, inscrutable as the silver salver he often carries. Bertie’s dandified reactions and sense of elegance are admirable, although Delany Brummé’s accent is an odd choice—high pitched and stilted. Nick Moore as Eustace Bassington-Bassington is at ease with his character, performing in a relaxed, natural flow.
Determined to have her way, Gertrude Winklesworth-Bode (Libby Oberlin) keeps Bertie and Bassy on the ropes with her intellectual banter and genuine concern for humanity. Director James Jandak Wood utilizes physical antics for a laugh while retaining the clever interplay of language, building to a topsy-turvy climax.
Recreating an Art Deco flat in soft gold with Tamara de Lempicka décor, set designer Carl Jordan has beautifully considered the arched gilding of the stage for a comfortably chic London salon. Robin DeLuca’s lighting is nuanced, and Eric Jackson’s costume designs use the 1920s silhouette while incorporating contemporary elements.
‘Jeeves Intervenes’ is a frolicking piece of comedy, kindly mocking the idle and spoiled upper class. It may have the substance of an Eton mess, but it is just as delightful to enjoy, despite minor difficulties.
Presented by Sonoma Arts Live through May 27, 2018 Thur/Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Photos by Miller Oberlin of Oberlin Photography
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