I read with interest in the December 2017 edition of Wooster Sauce (Issue No. 84, P5.) of two live PGW recordings that took place in January at the Riverhouse Arts Centre in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.
Always on the hunt for trivia or productions of the great man’s work, I was tempted by the invitation from our editor for any member to submit a review. I easily downloaded both recordings on BBC iPlayer, poured myself a glass of wine and sat back to listen to the adapted thirty minutes of ‘The Aunt and the Sluggard’ and ‘Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit’.
The recordings begin with a fade-in of a murmuring audience, followed by short intro music and applause. This adds warmth, intimacy and the feeling of a live stage performance. I am sure readers know the plot from both stories but in case any do not, I will refrain from offering any spoilers.
The audience seemed to be comprised of loyal PGW fans — laughing in all the right places, groaning at the various Bertie wheezes e.g. with Sir Roderick and the hot water bottle and enjoying listening to Jeeves hoover up the inevitable mess. Martin Jarvis’s different voices for Aunt Agatha, Sir Roderick Glossop, his nephew young Tuppy, Rocky and of course our stand-alone gentleman’s gentleman, were excellent and very distinct. Their lines were delivered perfectly.
However, there was one notable exception. I did not feel that Bertie sounded like Bertie. The unmistakable energy, youthful spring and bounce of his trumpety speech was not evident in MJ’s deep and gravelly voice. There were flickers every now and then as Martin worked with his crowd, but young Bertram Wooster’s lines often seemed to default back to his own voice. But this was easily forgiven and forgotten by the entertaining accent and funny performance of Aunt Isabel Rockmeteller.
I have one additional slight criticism in that Bertie’s last line thanking Jeeves for getting him out of the soup, seemed a little too emotional, nostalgic even. I suspect this was more to do with the general feeling of bonhomie in the room, but we are saved again by our man, with a perfectly delivered ‘I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir.’
If you have time, I would thoroughly recommend you give these recordings a listen.