At first impression By Jeeves! is intensely fashionable, hurling more bunting, side partings and clipped voices at our vintage desires than Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs combined. Wrap this up with a high octane farcical anecdote of the legendary Bertie Wooster and it leaves you with mixed feelings of nostalgic delight and sheer exhaustion.
Enter the pub theatre the size of a quaint village hall and you’re actually inside one; greeted by reams of red, white and blue flags, hoards of props not amiss in a caretakers cupboard and discarded pieces of set from previous Little Witton productions, where our piece is set. In the small space it’s all encompassing and even more so when the cast appear dishing out cucumber sandwiches and Victoria sponge cake with aplomb. It is however rather distracting, leaving one wishing they would just stop faffing and start the show.
It's no disappointment when they do. Overcoming initial expectations that Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie aren’t actually going to be entertaining you with their slick Brylcreemed glory, Jeeves and Wooster (Paul M Meston and Kevin Trainor) pack good punch as a pacy, charming double act. With Bertie ‘Banjo Boy’ Wooster missing his beloved instrument it's a wholly enjoyable tale of love, lust, revenge, mistaken identity and the souciance of The Wizard of Oz, heady and swift but unfortuantely lacking a direct plot to keep you hooked in enough to care.
The role of Bertie is unrelenting and Trainor more than delivers, however the show is stolen by Charlotte Mills as an unforgettable love interest Honoria Glossop providing a balance of energetic impromptu tap routines and heart warming emotion and comedy, singing "That Was Nearly Us" to Bertie.
For lovers of Alan Ayckbourne (and possibly the House of Eliott, French and Saunders style) this revival will satisfy more than Sunday lunch with Aunt Deborah’s infamous apple crumble - the dollops of thick creamy Andrew Lloyd Webber melodies sliding gently down. By Jeeves! unfortunately fails on a few areas, mainly the lack of subtlety in some characters' vocal and physical pitch in such an intimate venue and Jeeves' meandering clipped English accent.