New Play Exposes Alleged Wodehouse TreasonDate: 9 August 2000
New Play Exposes Alleged Wodehouse Treason A new play about PG Wodehouse, famous throughout the world as the creator of Bernie Wooster and his superior butler Jeeves, will explore the author's controversial war-time activities. Beyond a Joke, starring Anton Rodgers and Angela Thorne, opens at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on 30 August before touring to a further eight regional theatres and a possible West End transfer.
The play, written by Roger Milner, is based on MI5 files released last year, which indicated that Wodehouse was under investigation for treason at the end of the Second World War. At the beginning of the war, Wodehouse and his wife were living in the French town of Le Touquet. When it fell to the Nazis, Wodehouse was captured but released on condition that he make some American radio broadcasts which spoke light-heartedly of life under the Nazi regime.
Beyond a Joke takes place in September 1944 in the couple's apartment at Paris' Hotel Bristol where, despite the privations of the war around them, they are living in lavish style with their Pekinese dog, Wonder. It is the start of the British government's investigation into Wodehouse's alleged Nazi sympathies, and the author is visited by two members of the intelligence corps as well as the British ambassador.
Anton Rodgers is PG and Angela Thorne his elegant wife Ethel. Rodgers and Thorne were last seen in the tour of Alan Ayckbourn's How the Other Half Lives and also appeared together in the TV series Noah's Ark. Rodgers' other theatre credits include Time of My Life (Vaudeville) and Songbook (Globe), for which he won an Olivier for Best Actor. His other TV credits include May to December and the recently aired Up Rising.
Thorne's other theatre credits include Communicating Doors (Savoy), Midsummer Night's Dream (Almeida) and Quartet (Albery). Her additional television credits include To the Manor Born, Three Up Two Down, Anyone for Denis? and Cold Comfort Farm.
Joining Rodgers and Thorne in the cast of Beyond a Joke are Michael Cochrane, Ian Gelder, Mark Penfold and Beatriz Batarda. The production is directed by Christopher Morahan and designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Mick Hughes and sound by John A Leonard and Gregory Clarke.
Following Guildford, Beyond a Joke continues to Richmond, Bath, Norwich, Poole, Bromley, Cambridge, Malvern and Cardiff.