REVIEW: New Jeeves show at Chemainus will leave you in stitches

<p>Vivienne Duckworth (Kate Dion-Richard) needs to be quick on her feet to steal Bertie Wooster (Kirk Smith) away from his watchful manservant, Jeeves (Bernard Cuffling). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)</p> -

Vivienne Duckworth (Kate Dion-Richard) needs to be quick on her feet to steal Bertie Wooster (Kirk Smith) away from his watchful manservant, Jeeves (Bernard Cuffling). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

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In hockey, they're always talking about strength down the centre as the way to success.

And in theatre, it's also a good rule of thumb.

And it's clear for all to see in the Chemainus Theatre Festival's production of Jeeves Takes a Bow, on stage now until Sept. 30.

This is the final play in a trilogy of Jeeves stories, and Bernard Cuffling is back with his wonderful characterization of the long-suffering gentleman's gentleman, anchoring the rest of a fine cast and, as usual, running everything unobtrusively.

This time, Cuffling tips a wink to the crowd once in a while to remind us all that the play's the thing, so enjoy yourself.

There's a lot to enjoy, and like a fine beer, a delicious cappucino, or even a good rootbeer float, a good part of the fun.

Bertie Wooster, Jeeves's boss, a gormless minor English aristocrat, is in America enjoying a bit of excitement in Prohibition era "New Yauhk" when everything begins to unravel. This play is skilfully directed by Mark DuMez and the explanatory bits and pieces are fitted in neatly and quickly. In fact, everything moves along briskly in this production, which reaches its conclusion in just under two hours.

Given that, it's amazing how much comedy they can fit into that time.

We have Bertie discovering that a predatory woman with an eye to marrying him has arrived from England with a note from his Aunt Agatha, the Nephew Crusher. Then a pal, Nigel Bingham-Binkersteth, known as Binky, has assumed Bertie's identity to woo an actress, who just happens to be the daughter of a ruthless gangster. You get the picture. In modern lingo: it's complicated.

Kirk Smith makes his debut in the Jeeves plays with this turn as Bertie and is superb as the nitwit who just can't seem to step, sliding into troubled waters. Colin A. Doyle is perfect as his equally irresponsible pal, Binky.

Robyn Wallis makes a delightful Ruby Le Roy, the ditzy dame who's unwittingly hooked herself an English lord and Declan O'Reilly adds just the right note of mayhem to the show as Ruby's gangster father, Knuckles McCann.

The cherry on the top of this ice cream soda of a production is Kate Dion-Richard, a scene-stealer who takes Miss Vivienne Duckworth from fearsome frump to fabulous floozie with plenty of panache.

The set, the costumes, the music: they all combine to take you to another era. Don't miss your chance to go along for the ride and if you've seen the previous two plays in this series, you'll want to be there as Jeeves Takes a Bow for the last time.

Remember, this is just a short run, so go online to chemainustheatre.ca or call 1-800-565-7738 and reserve your seats now for a great night out.

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