Australians have a love/hate relationship with Farce. Perhaps it’s the over-the-top slap stick. (We aren’t opposed to a Pratt fall or two.) Perhaps it’s the disproportionate responses to simple misunderstandings or single actors playing multiple character configurations whose antics make us frustrated rather than delighted and engaged. Farce is hard. It takes skill. Quick costume changes, scene spins, foley work, simultaneous send-ups, and sharp choreography designed to reinforce hilarity. We must believe in the silliness or it just doesn’t work. And above all, we must cheer for the champion, despite their flaws and hope that they succeed in their endeavours….. however big or small.
Passion and wit are the keys.
Perfect Nonsense has passion and wit in spades.
Perfect Nonsense, (by The Goodale Brothers) based on the 1938 novel ‘The Code of The Woosters,’ is perfectly nonsensical in every way and it works! A hilarious comedy of manners and madhattery set amongst the Edwardian English upper class, this PG Wodehouse tribute is Farce at its finest. There is a reason why this play won an Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2014. It is remise of the comedy of errors, catastrophes and conventions associated with humorous plays such as Michael Frayn’s ‘Noises Off’ or Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors.
Wooster, cleverly fashioned by Mathew Carter (Mouse Trap, The Lion in Winter) has had an adventure. In typical Edwardian fashion, in order to re-create his escapade and share the tale, he has of course, hired a theatre. Enter one country house weekend at Totleigh Towers, an antique cow creamer, a crazy Aunt Dahlia and a newt-loving bestie, Gussie Fink-Nottle. Bertie Wooster may be charmingly delusional but he tells one great story!
Wooster’s antics, however comical, would not resonate without the help of his man servant and gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves, expertly played by Joseph Chance ( The Dog in The Manger, Cyrano de Bergerac) or the ever long-suffering Butler Steppings, brilliantly played by Robert Goodale ( Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest.)
Perfect Nonsense is a good night out. It’s not just the witty one liners, the flourished scene changes, live foley work or slap stick that will make you smile. It’s that Jeeves and Wooster is fun. The versatility and physicality of the actors is engaging and Alice Power’s set design is excellent. She shows an articulate understanding of conventions whilst adding to the set as the story unfolds. Quick change set pieces are also revealed with humorous flair which heighten not only the story but engage the audience. In short, the set is charming. The Goodale Brothers have adapted the original direction by Sean Foley and it is still sharp. The show itself, cleverly reflects a class of people whilst simultaneously sending them up.
This is a short season folks. So if Farce is your thing, get yourself to the Opera House.
Original direction: Sean Foley Direction Adapted by: Goodale Brothers
Performers: Joseph Chance, Mathew Carter, Robert Goodale Set Design: Alice Power
Perfect Nonsense runs at the SOH Drama Theatre until 28th August
Shondelle Pratt – Talking Arts