The notorious Andrew Lloyd Webber/Alan Ayckbourn flop By Jeeves gets a revival at the Landor Theatre. Based on PG Wodehouse stories it should have been a surefire success but although this new small-scale production is very strong, it doesn't rediscover it as a lost classic. When Bertie Wooster's banjo disappears he has nothing to perform at a charity concert, so instead with the help of Jeeves (Paul M Meston) recounts one of his ridiculous adventures, featuring multiple mistaken identities and romantic mishaps which his ever-faithful valet will have to help him out of. It's well-sung and acted, the songs aren't particularly memorable but at least it's fairly early in ALW's career, before he decided that repeating the same tune with five different tempos counts as five songs, so they each have their own tune. Director Nick Bagnall and his cast come up with a lot of energetic, funny business, especially in the very silly duet between Brendan Cull and Jenni Maitland, "Half a Moment." Good as the supporting cast are though, the show really needs to be carried by Bertie, and Kevin Trainor is up to the task of making you somehow like the chronically dim aristocrat. Such a good creative team with so much energy, a shame they're not getting the chance to use it in a more satisfying show.
By Jeeves by Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on stories by PG Wodehouse is booking until the 12th of March at the Landor Theatre.