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Review: ‘Jeeves’ keeps ship right on course for comedy at Chemainus Theatre

Brett Harris as Bertie Wooster as standout
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BC Entertainment Hall of Fame actor Bernard Cuffling is back to play straight-man Jeeves for the fourth time alongside Brett Harris who for the first time embraces the comical role of Jeeves’s feather-brained and frivolous employer Bertie. A hungover Bertie reaches for another boat drink on the deck of the Vanderley yacht, Jeeves has his work cut out for him as he once again makes sure his boss keeps out of hot water. (Chadd Cawson/Citizen)

It was a given that Bernard Cuffling was going to be a delight as the titular Jeeves in the Chemainus Theatre Festival’s new production of Jeeves at Sea.

But the rest of the cast has risen to the challenge of presenting this fourth Jeeves installment, with standout performances by Brett Harris as Bertie Wooster and Erin Ormond as Miss Pilbeam, in particular.

Belly laughs abound as Jeeves unflappably, as always, steers his boss Bertie (and everyone else in the vicinity) through a series of unfortunate events that just keep getting more ridiculous by the second.

There’s twins, true love, a duel, mistaken identity, an inheritance and more.

Through it all Harris unerringly embodies the dimwitted Bertie, one of the idle rich whose only interest is to continue to amuse himself. He doesn’t take anything too seriously, including proposing marriage, and once again finds himself at the centre of circumstances for which he is, as always, unprepared. Harris makes us love Bertie and root for him as he digs himself deeper and deeper into various holes from which his valet Jeeves must extract him. His physical comedy is top notch and his comedic timing is impeccable from his first appearance after a night of too much partying.

RELATED: ‘Jeeves at Sea’ sails into the Chemainus Theatre from May 10 to June 2

Speaking of physical comedy, Ormond is a scene stealer as Lady Stella’s paid companion. Ormond is perfect showing both the strict and silly sides of Pilbeam for the audience’s delight.

Tiana Jung as Lady Stella is the carefree socialite who blithely and unrepentantly enjoys manipulating everyone around her for her own amusement. Her airy delivery is perfect here, playing the character with just the right light touch.

Rounding out the cast are Antony Knight as the exceedingly silly Sir Crumpworth, and Ian Farthing hitting all the right notes as Count Otto.

Cuffling doesn’t have to do anything other than just stand there in order to perfectly embody the role of Jeeves, the valet who’s smarter than everyone else combined. The entire audience is blessed with his dry wit as he saves Bertie from everything from lavender shirts to his latest debacle. Cuffling exudes just the right air of amusement at the goings-on behind his impeccably bland exterior. Everyone really does need a Jeeves.

Set designer Hans Saefkow also deserves a shoutout for his beautiful work to transform the stage into Lady Stella’s yacht.

This show is just a heck of a lot of fun. As all the Jeeves plays, adapted by Margaret Raether from the stories of P.G. Wodehouse, this production is a chance to forget your troubles for an evening and just immerse yourself in a world where nothing truly bad is ever going to happen and everything will turn out all right in the end. Plus you’ll have a lot of laughs along the way.

The show runs until June 2. You can get tickets at chemainustheatre.ca or call 1-800-565-7738.



Andrea Rondeau

About the Author: Andrea Rondeau

I returned to B.C. and found myself at the Cowichan Valley Citizen.
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