Theater review: Jeeves Intervenes by N.C. Stage

Photo courtesy of N.C. Stage

North Carolina Stage Company takes viewers back to the early 20th century with the British comedy of manners, Jeeves Intervenes.

Many may recall the British TV series “Jeeves and Wooster” from the early 1990s. It starred Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry as high-class Bertie Wooster and his dependable valet, Jeeves. The show was developed from the short-stories and novels by P. G. Wodehouse, mainstays of British literature from 1915 to the ’70s. Now the venerable characters have been brought to life by playwright Margaret Raether and staged locally under the steady direction of Angie Flynn-McIver.

Michael MacCauley’s Jeeves is required to be the stoic, ever-present servant who never breaks composure. He is, however, surrounded by histrionic characters. Onstage, MacCauley manages to deliver some of the best and driest lines, drawing enormous laughs.

Scott Treadway plays Bertie Wooster, the man whose life Jeeves must keep ordered. He’s a lovable rascal who finds himself in all manner of fixes that he can’t work his way out of without the brilliant schemes of his man servant. Charlie Flynn-McIver is Bertie’s school chum, Eustace — even more of a ne’er do well than Bertie. Flynn-McIver is fun to watch in all of his exasperated glory. He implores Bertie and Jeeves to help him out-scheme his retired military Uncle Rupert who is determined to send Eustace to service in India rather than continuing to fund his playboy lifestyle. John Hall’s booming voice and towering stature make him an imposing force as Rupert.

A comedy of manners ensues as Bertie’s Aunt Agatha arrives. She wants her nephew to marry the attractive but alarmingly austere Gertrude. Callan White’s Agatha rides rough-shod over everyone, save Jeeves, who manages to always stay a step ahead. Lauren Fortuna’s Gertrude loves German philosophy and is determined to find a man she can mold into Nietzsche-like perfection. Bertie finds this concept cringe-worthy, while Eustace is oddly attracted to the idea — and Gertrude.

Scheming leads to misdirect and deception as Jeeves juggles the lives and ambitions of the characters who always circle back to him for guidance and enlightenment. At every turn there is the fear that all will be exposed. There’s also the hope that somehow it will all work out in the end, and Jeeves will make it look easy.

WHAT: Jeeves Intervenes
WHERE: North Carolina Stage Company, ncstage.org
WHEN: Through Sunday, Feb. 21. Wednesdays through Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, at 2 p.m. $16-$40

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About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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