Originally created as Jeeves in 1975, a collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Alan Ayckbourn (lyrics), and rewritten in 1996 as By Jeeves, this musical was performed by Thistles Musical Theatre Company at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford. Being a Lloyd Webber completist, I knew I wanted to see this, particularly as I love Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories. The show is based on various stories, particularly The Code of the Woosters.
The setting is a village hall, where Bertie Wooster is called upon to make a speech and play his banjo. When his banjo goes missing, the ever-reliable Jeeves orders another and fills up the time before it should arrive with stories of Bertie’s exploits. Village residents “become” the characters in Bertie’s story, and the props, used imaginatively, are taken from the hall.
With a talented cast and a number of good tunes (I recognised the melody of one of the songs from the earlier The Likes of Us) including “Banjo Boy” and “It’s a Pig”, as well as a witty book staying true to the spirit of the original Wodehouse stories, I found By Jeeves to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.