First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Hall, Oak Brook, IL
By Margaret Raether
Based on characters created by P.G. Wodehouse
Directed by Alison C. Vesely
Try not to fall overboard with Jeeves at Sea!
When you enter the Mayslake Peabody Estate you get the feeling like you have suddenly transported yourself to an English Countryside Mansion and are ready to embark on an Architectural Tour. This Tudor Style Estate has a fascinating history and charming presence and happens to be the home to First Folio Theatre. Jeeves at Sea brought to us by Margaret Raether adapted the works of P.G.Woodhouse opened on Saturday night. Quite the intellectual and eclectic crowd filled the house for this two hour British farce.
The playful Bertie Wooster (Christian Gray) a carousing playboy type, wakes up a little bit fuzzy after a night of partying and carrying on. The scholarly intellectual Jeeves (strongly portrayed by Jim McCance) is there to tend to his every need keeping him out of trouble, however he creates hair raising schemes as needed. Bertie has an eye for Lady Stella Vanderley (Kate McDermott) who says, “Bertie, you have many flaws, I shall be pointing them out from time to time.” And so she does! Sir Percival Everard “Crumpet” Crumpworth (Andrew Behling) is the best friend of Bertie, plays himself and his twin brother Alfred. This comes in handy when Count Otto von Dietrichstein (very funny and colorful Joe Foust) is on a mission to speak with Crumpet on highly sensitive business matter.
You see Crumpet may have accidently killed someone (he can’t remember) and gets this letter from his rich Uncle that he has just found out that he has a twin brother that has been living in Africa his whole life and so when deciding whom to leave his fortune to he must make sure that he is fair and includes his brother. Miss Stella’s assistant, Miss Minerva Pilbean (Whitney Morse) has a secret crush on Jeeves, but also rediscovers forbidden love with Count Otto and also finds herself infatuated with Bertie because she believes that he is actually Rosa M. Banks, the author of some of her favorite novels. Are you following? The show is full of schemes and clever wit, but is a bit slow and drawn-out.
The intimate stage has a simple set which uses two doors for entering and exiting the stage and seems more of an improv set up than a cruise ship and doesn’t really allow the actors to flourish. At times the dialogue was difficult to understand with the quick dialogue and the British accent combined. The cast however I applaud for their efforts. It might just be worth the trip to see the historic site if nothing else.
Reviewed by: Sally Jo Osborne January 30, 2016
For more information, see the “Jeeves at Sea” page at theatreinchicago.com
Or call 630-986-8067 www.firstfolio.org
Playing at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st Street and Route 83, Oak Brook January 30-February 28
Running time is approximately 2 hours with one intermission