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PG Wodehouse play in Singapore

Tickle your funny bone

Oct 7, 2016 5:50 AM

PG WODEHOUSE is one of the most popular humorists in the English language, having written about 100 books with millions of copies sold worldwide. So it takes someone with a lot of confidence to adapt his work into a play. But with the backing of the Wodehouse estate, writers David and Robert Goodale can rest easy in the knowledge that Perfect Nonsense was a perfectly sane idea.

Based on one of Wodehouse's more popular Jeeves & Wooster novels, The Code of the Woosters, the story centres around Bertie Wooster being flattered into performing a one-man show in front of an audience.

"The only problem is," says David Goodale, during a phone interview with BT Lifestyle, "he really isn't as good a raconteur as he thinks."

In steps the ever-resourceful Jeeves, who along with his butler friend Sepping (played by Robert Goodale), helps Wooster out by playing all the other roles within that story, making it "a farce within a farce".

David Goodale, 66, says: "It's quite an amazing feat. It's a two-hour-long production which goes at breakneck speed, and you have only three actors playing the parts of about nine characters. I've caught members of the audience leave while muttering: 'I can't believe they're still standing!'"

Jeeves & Wooster: Perfect Nonsense comes to Singapore after a sell-out year on London's West End, three successful UK tours and a season in Mumbai.

David Goodale credits its success mostly to the brilliance of Wodehouse's original work.

He explains: "The novels are so exquisitely plotted. The plots are beautifully constructed, but they're also absolutely lunatic, so I think it's the sheer escapism combined with the blisteringly funny interplay that has made the novels and, in turn, this play, such a success."

The idea for the play came about when Robert Goodale, affectionately known as Bobby, was asked to do a one-man show in Edinburgh about 25 years ago. After selecting the novel, he pared it down to a one-hour production, and asked his elder brother to direct it.

After a few performances, the brothers went back to their own careers - Robert to acting and David to making TV documentaries.

But at a dinner party about five years ago, they were asked to revive the show. On working with his brother, David Goodale says: "The best part about it is that Bobby and I have a shared family sense of humour, so there's a lot of common understanding there. We don't have to waste time spelling out what we're thinking."

He adds: "And of course, we do fall out from time to time. But the best part about falling out with someone you care about is that it's much easier to get over the initial disagreement quickly."

  • Jeeves & Wooster: Perfect Nonsense is on at the Capitol Theatre till Oct 16. Tickets start at S$70. For more information, please visit www.lunchbox-productions.com