PG Wodehouse's The Play's The Thing

Tue 1st – Sat 5th November 2011


Rebecca Loxton

at 00:59 on 2nd Nov 2011



The Play’s The Thing

Critics don’t like bloodshed, comments one character in the course of this play. If there is to be any slaughter, they like to attend to it to themselves. Well, this critic has no intention of attending to any form of slaughter, for The Play’s The Thing is a gem of a show.

P. G. Wodehouse is not known for his plays, but the script of The Play’s The Thing, a collaboration between Wodehouse and Ferenc Molnàr, showcases Wodehouse’s wit as well as any Jeeves and Wooster novel.

The audience spends the majority of the play roaring in delighted laughter at the dialogue and action on stage, as the characters fumble their way through this light-hearted romantic comedy.

The director, Helen Taylor, writes in the accompanying programme that she hopes the audience will find escapism from today’s tough times and take refuge in Wodehouse’s world. For two glorious hours, the audience is whisked back to upper-class England of the 1920s and sucked into the lives of the characters.

Wodehouse’s script is brought to life by ElevenOne, an amateur theatre group with all the polish of professionalism. The actors work well as an ensemble, reacting with great comic timing to one another’s remarks and facial expressions. In particular, young actress Monica Nash shines in her role as Illona Szabo.

‘We’ve just been having an argument about the proper way to end a second act,’ comments one character to another.

Light and fluffy as it may sound, this romantic comedy has an interesting Brechtian undertone, as the characters continue to interrogate the nature of theatre itself. They discuss the art of making good theatre, the act of writing plays, and often speak directly to the audience, acknowledging the presence of the spectators while remaining in character.

The witty dialogue and amusing intrigue are complemented by the beautiful set designed by Vince Haig. Complete with chaise longue, brandy glasses and paintings, the set aptly conjures up the social milieu Wodehouse aimed to depict. The set is something it seems all audience members appreciated, having been heard commented upon this aspect of the play as they left the theatre.


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