Last evening we attended the Durban premiere of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.
As we set out – without raingear – precipitation commenced. It continued during our journey, made driving difficult when passing through areas suffering de-lightedly from load-shedding power cuts, and persisted when we found parking some distance from the theatre. Our attempts to make the transition through the damp as swiftly as possible were frustrated by a downer when the upper of one of Much Better Half’s shoes parted company with the sole. Hobble trouble, which made progress at the double impossi-bubble.
Somewhat soggy, we arrived with little time to spare, but were soon entranced by the sheer ingenuity of the show in concept, dialogue, sets (produced by various ‘impromptu’ miracles which are attributed to the inimitable Jeeves) and interpretation by the talented cast of three. Bertie Wooster (Jonathan Roxmouth) recounts the story while Graham Hopkins as Jeeves, and Robert Fridjhon as Seppings, do their own parts but also have to supply him with impersonations of numerous other characters including Aunt Dahlia, Sir Roderick Spode, Madeleine Basset, and Gussie Fink-Nottle. At one stage on one stage three actors are staged as playing four. One is female, front view; and male, back view. A dog, Bartholomew, is however played by a puppet which gets very attached to one of the characters – by the leg, with teeth. The whole thing is incredibly clever, and hilariously funny. Those who have never encountered Wodehouse before could find no better place to do so, and fans of the books will love this version.
At interval, after suitable congratulations, I asked the director, Steven Stead, if there was any duct tape backstage for MBH’s shoe. ‘I’ll find some gaffer tape for you there after the show,’ he responded.
I staggered back. ‘Oops,’ I said. ‘I’ve just corrected a script I’m editing for a playwright from Scotland who used that term,’
‘That’s what it’s known as in theatrical circles,’ I was assured.
I do love these synchronistic aids to my editing endeavours …
Anyway, we were just wondering if there was time to grab some wine from the bar when everyone suddenly took the dimmest possible view of everything … due to an unscheduled power cut.
That was it. The second half couldn’t, and didn’t, happen. The tradition of ‘the show must go on’ can’t apply when it has been structured to depend so much on electronic aid. It was disappointing and frustrating for the audience; it must have been heartbreaking for everyone involved in the production.
If ‘that’s showbiz!’ it shouldn’t be – but in Darkest-Yet-Getting-Even-Darker Africa it is becoming normal. Our telephone has been out for several days, and I had no internet for the whole of today. It only came back on after we had a (scheduled) two-hour power-out at suppertime …
Though not all white
To say it’s black –
For PC types might
Feel a lack
Of sensitivity –
So it will have to be:
Well, fair enough,
It has gone dark –
Of brains and stuff
There’s not a spark
Of any kind in sight –
They’re simply not that bright.