Psmith, Journalist

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A World Premiere.

By P.G. Wodehouse.

Adapted & Directed by Terry McCabe.

At City Lit Theater, Chicago.

Wack wordplay and wisdom of  British dandy Psmith is a treat to behold.

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City Lit Theater is known for their adaptations and performances of British humorist P. G.  Wodehouse’s writing. They have produced 25 Wodehouse shows in their 37 year history.  They know how to present his characters on stage. Psmith, Journalist is their first Wodehouse in 12 years.  One of the tricks to doing Wodehouse is to find an actor who has the dandy manner and the fast-talking yet articulate ability to execute Wodehouse’s wordy comic witticisms in the lead character.

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Adapter/director Terry McCabe has found a young talent to play Psmith, Richard Eisieoffel.  This actor has the dandy manner, the look (including the outlandish suit and bootie) complete with a monocle. Once Eisieoffel relaxes in the role he is sure to not fumble as many words as he did on opening night. He quickly recovered and landed most of his fumbles so skillfully that they were hardly noticeable.

As the protagonist. Psmith comes to New York in 1910 from Cambridge, edits a newspaper, fights organized crime and loses his straw hat in this wacky wordy comedy of manners. Psmith  states: ““the work is not light. Sometimes the cry goes round, ‘Can Psmith get through it all? Will his strength support his unquenchable spirit?’ But I stagger on. I do not repine.” The P that begins his name is silent (“as in pshrimp,” he helpfully points out), but he himself is not. He is wittily eloquent in any situation, always confident that, as he puts it, “with the aid of the Diplomatic Smile and the Honeyed Word I may manage to pull through.”

The above is a sampling of Wodehouse’s clever writing that translates into funny stylized comedy on stage. Richard Eisieoffel is terrific as the British dandy.  He is added with ten supporting actors including  John Blick as Billy Windsor and Joe Ciresi as Pugsy among a dedicated cast of gentleman, thugs and assorted underworld characters. The play is action-packed including a boxing scene,  an assortment of thug and memorable characters as well as surprising plot twists.

The joy of a Wodehouse novel comes to life on stage led by a clever speaking Englishman who can make a greeting into a funny speech. Richard Eisieoffel is the charmingly wacky yet lovable character who uses with and whimsy in fun adventures that engage us and make us laugh.

If you have never seen a Wodehouse comedy on stage, give this show a try. You’ll be impressed. I’m betting you’ll go  to Kindle to get a Wodehouse novel.

Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: October 2, 2016.

For more info checkout the Psmith, Journalist page at theatreinchicago.com.

At City Lit Theater,   1030 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL., www.citylit.org, tickets $29 -seniors $25 – military/students $10,  Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, Monday, October 24 & 31 at 7;30 pm, running time is 2hours, 25 minutes with intermission, through November 6, 2016.