Review: Jeeves In Bloom a comical garden of delights

Valet Jeeves (Bernard Cuffling) showed polite poise amid the noise of comical chaos during Chemainus Theatre
Valet Jeeves (Bernard Cuffling) showed polite poise amid the noise of comical chaos during Chemainus Theatre's gem Jeeves In Bloom, staged Saturday.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

With its thankful lack of farce, cleverly delivered dialogue, and some truly laughable moments, Jeeves In Bloom was indeed a bouquet of delights.

Chemainus Theatre's six-member cast, under director Mark DuMez, merrily harvested humour Saturday as stoically wise valet, Jeeves — the part was tailor-made for Bernard Cuffling – injects sanity into insane situations.

Cuffling's Jeeves would likely be bored without the absurd antics centered on his lovable boss, Bertie Wooster (Warren Bain), and his eccentric family and friends.

The theatre's premiere outing of P.G. Wodehouse's vault of Jeeves adventures — adapted well here by Margaret Raether — saw Bertie help newt-loving pal Gussie (Jesse Martyn) develop the right romantic wiles to woo rosie socialite Madeline (Ella Simon), while she fell for Bertie.

A side plot involves Bertie assisting his aunt Dahlia to swipe her own diamonds to pay printing charges for her upper-crust magazine — with the aim of buying the stones back before husband, Thomas Travers (Ian Farthing), finds out.

Laughs ensue along various avenues, all quietly swept by Jeeves' instinctive forethought.

Confirmed bachelor Bertie did yeoman service, in a country-manner garden, to show Gussie how to shed his super-shyness, cage his salamander obsession, and snare his sweetheart.

Despite too much newt nonsense, Martyn's horn-rimmed turn as Gussie was fine.

One hilarious scene saw him slither like a lizard across the stage floor to avoid talking with Madeline.

She was rightly played by Simon as a pertly willing chatterbox.

Bain's bin of expressions and reactions to the situational comedy were also a joy to watch.

Farthing, doubling as crusty Travers and pompous French chef Anatole, were tasty additions.

Anatole's crass habit of calling his blissfully snobbish British masters "English dogs" right under their noses, was choice.

DuMez's romp was also stuffed with a glossary of noteworthy English words and phrases: "a tongue-tied prat (idiot); "come across with the brass (money); "Well, I'm dashed (surprised)"; "there's the snag (problem)"; "banana oil (romantic words)"; "beastly (awful)"; "no need to get nippy (angry)", and other gems.

But the real treasure was watching British-born Cuffling make Jeeves his own, displaying practical devices for everyday use.

For starters, the poised servant knew his place, aloofly listening to everything.

His cooly guarded reserve gave him control and respect.

Jeeves also offered sparse, politely measured comments, plus advice right on cue, so as to be of help at just the right moment.

That stance made Jeeves the straight man against the script's innocent bushel of shenanigans.

DuMez and company can be proud of creating a jaunty comedy with takeaway depth.

Jeeves In Bloom flowers until April 26. Call 250-246-9800.

Romantic-comedy rating: 8 prats out of 10.

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