L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Musique: Andrew Lloyd Webber •
Paroles: Alan Ayckbourn •
Livret: Alan Ayckbourn • Andrew Lloyd Webber •
Based on the Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse
It is difficult to present a synopsis for Jeeves as the musical underwent so many revisions and such substantial pruning that a definitive script was never produced. Because substantive cuts took place at every point in the process (including at several points once the musical was in performance), the website has turned to Alan Ayckbourn's original draft synopsis from July 1974, which formed the basis for the first complete draft script, parts of which were presented to P G Wodehouse in September 1974. This synopsis probably best represents Alan's original, unadulterated plan for the musical, which was then reduced by more than a third in length by the time it closed in London.
Bertram Wooster is giving a lecture on the history of the banjo. However, when his banjo strings snap during his first song, Bertie dispatches Jeeves to get new strings, while he regales the audiences with reminiscence of his own adventures, which will show Jeeves in a particularly bad light.
Bertie has been court in front of Judge Watkyn Bassett accused of pinching a policeman's helmet. Now he and Jeeves are about to embark on a world cruise to escape a match, arranged by Aunt Dahlia, between Bertie and Honoria Glossop. Gussie Fink-Nottle arrives at Bertie's flat pronouncing his love for Bertie's ex-fiancée Madeline Bassett, who still holds a flame for Bertie. The shy Gussie implores Jeeves' help, particularly as there is a rival for Madeleine's affections in the form of Roderick Spode. Jeeves refuses to help and Bertie and Gussie agree the butler is past his best.
Bertie suggests the best way to tackle Spode is to humiliate him through insulting limericks. Gussies agrees and then announces Watkyn Bassett is coming to the flat to take him to Totleigh Towers; Gussie pretending he owns the flat to try and impress Bassett. Bertie hides in a closet when Bassett arrives with Spode in tow. Spode warns Gussie away from Madeleine (and her inheritance) or the full wrath of his Black Shorts organisation (the shop was out of shirts) will fall on Gussie. Spode discovers Bertie, who Bassett recognises from court, and throws him out of the flat.
Aunt Dahlia arrives having seen Spode leave the flat. Her Chef has been tricked into signing a contract to work for Spode and ahe asks Bertie to retrieve the contract from Totleigh Towers. Bertie refuses much to Dahlia's rage and she warns him to read The Times. There Bertie finds an announcement he is engaged to Bassett's ward Stephanie 'Stiffy' Byng. Bertie decides to go to Totleigh Towers to resolve matters.
At Totleigh Towers, Bertie inadvertently meets Spode and Bassett, who again recognise the 'thief', just as Bertie spots The Times. As Bassett threatens to call the police, Bertie eats the newspaper front page. Madeleine arrives and vouches for Bertie and he is invited to join tea. Gussie, confident in his limerick scheme, but discovers he has lost the notebook containing all the offending Limericks.
Bertie meets Stiffy, who is in love with Harold 'Stinker' Pinker but knows Bassett will think it an unsuitable match. By announcing he engagement to Bertie, she hopes Bassett will see Stinker as the lesser of two evils. She reveals unless Bertie declares his love for her to Bassett, she will not return the limerick notebook she has found.
If things could not get worse, Bingo Little arrives and asks for help in his unrequited love for Honoria. Bertie agrees to help if he can and also asks Gussie to get Madeleine to meet him in the garden so he can plead Gussie's case. They meet and Madeleine mistakes it as a declaration of love from Bertie. Spode meanwhile has discovered Bertie's relationship to Aunt Dahlia and threatens him not to get involved.
Bertie advises Bingo to express his feelings to Honoria as though they're for a friend. At Stiffy's insistence, Bertie then goes to Bassett and declares his love for Stiffy. A thunderstruck Bassett runs away into the next room where Madeleine tells him Bertie has proposed to her. Astonished, he runs to the next room where Honoria mistakenly believes Bingo was talking about Bertie. She tells Bassett she has agreed to Bertie's proposal and he leaves the house screaming while three women pronounce their undying love for Bertie.
Jeeves suggests it would be best to leave the country now, Bertie disagrees and say he has to follow the Code of the Woosters and sort this all out. He asks Jeeves to spike Gussies orange juice at tea as Dutch courage may give him confidence. Dahlia arrives at the Towers and accuses Bertie of not helping her.
Stiffy now tells Bertie he must steal Bassett's silverware allowing Stinker to recover it and be declared a hero. Bertie has no choice as Stiffy has hidden the notebook in the silverware collection.
Bingo meanwhile is determined the way to woo Honoria - now smitten with Spode - is to beat Spode at Tennis. Spode cheats to defeat Bingo though leaving Honoria disgusted by Spode's tactics and Bingo's defeat. She declares Bertie is till the man for her. Spode warns Bertie off and he pleads with Jeeves for help, who hints he may found something of interest and mentioning the word Eulalie might have an effect.
Bertie's has a last ditch masterplan in which Bingo will apparently try to commit suicide out of love for Honoria, who Gussie will rescue impressing Madeleine. Bertie meanwhile will steal the silverware and retrieve the notebook and Dahlia's contract. Unfortunately, Jeeves has now spiked Gussie's drink.
At midnight, Bertie persuades Bingo to climb the hall railing for his 'suicide' attempt. Unfortunately Gussie has drunk himself into a stupour and Bertie props him up by the front door. Everything in place, he sets off the fire alarm. Bingo panics, slips and gets caught in the railings. The women rush from the house in panic, not even noticing Bingo. Spode and Bassett arrive and presume Bertie is not trying to save Bingo but to kill him - given further credence by the apparently dead Gussie. Bertie tries to escape but runs into Dahlia, disguised as Spode. Faced with two Spodes, Bertie remembers to shout Eulalie. Spode cringes away and Bertie escapes into the silver room, where he is floored by an over-enthusiastic Stinker.
Bertie awakes in bed to discover Jeeves recovered both the notebook and Dahlia's contract in the chaos. Stinker has proved his worth by stopping Bertie and Honoria and Madeleine believe Bingo and Gussie had been victims of exceptional bravery in also trying to thwart Bertie. The only problem is pages from the notebook have fallen out and have been found by Spode and the rest of the household.
In a rage, Spode come for Bertie who again shouts Eulalie, driving Spode away. Dahlia tears up the contract and berates Bertie, who is suddenly being with pity rather than as a criminal; Jeeves having announced Bertie's behaviour is caused by being a little weak in the head. Bertie decides they should take the cruise now and as he can't face everyone, he will leave by the window. Unfortunately, everyone is gathered outside and sees Bertie struggling to get away from Totleigh Towers.
The story finished, Jeeves announces he has obtained some special strings have arrived - muted unknown to Bertie - and there is time for a final unique rendition of Banjo Boy. Bertie leaves the stage asking Jeeves what precisely Eulalie means. (In the Wooster novels, Eulalie refers to Eulalie Soeurs, a lingerie shop in Bond Street of which Spode is the founder and proprietor of. A secret he is obviously not keen is revealed.)
1996: By Jeeves
About to give a charity banjo performance, Bertram Wooster discovers his banjo has been ‘stolen’ and replaced with a frying pan. With a call out for a replacement, his butler Jeeves suggests he instead recall one of his adventures with what props are available….
Bertie, under the assumed name of Gussie Fink-Nottle, is facing Judge Watkyn Bassett having knocked a policeman’s helmet off. He is sentenced but problems immediately arise. The real Gussie appears at Bertie's flat, pronouncing his love for Madeline, daughter of Bassett. To impress Bassett, he has taken Bertie’s name and pretended to be the owner of the flat.
Just to complicate matters, Basset also has a ward, Stephanie ‘Stiffy’ Byng, who wants Bertie to help her romance with The Revd Harold ‘Stinker’ Pinker. As Bertie has failed to respond, Stiffy has announced in The Times she is engaged to Bertie.
In a bid to prevent disaster and Bassett reading The Times, Bertie decides to go to Bassett’s home, Totleigh Towers. Driving to the Towers, he picks up his friend Bingo Little and his intended love, Honoria Glossop, along the way. Honoria and Bertie were once an item to the annoyance of Bingo, who believes Honoria still holds a flame for Bertie. At the Towers, they meet Bassett's guest, the American Cyrus Budge III - who also has eyes on Madeline – and just to confuse matters, Bertie introduces himself as Bingo Little and Bingo is introduced as Gussie….
At the end of the first act, Bertie is also Gussie and Bingo; Bingo is Gussie; Gussie is Bertie; Stiffy is ‘engaged’ to Bertie, but loves Stinker; Honoria fancies Bertie, but is loved by Bingo; Gussie longs for Madeline, but is afraid of Cyrus who also wants Madeline's affections. Everything is about to get much more confused….
Bertie decides to talk to Madeline on Gussie’s behalf, but she misinterprets his words and believes Bertie has declared his love for her. Gussie is enraged. Honoria has also proclaimed her love for Bertie, much to Bingo’s annoyance. The only woman apparently not interested in Bertie is Stiffy, who is 'engaged' to him.
With Bertie being blamed for everyone's woes, Stiffy comes up with a daring and risky plan. If only for Bertie. He will pretend to be a burglar, who will be thwarted by Stinker, thus putting the latter in a good light.
Bertie climbs a ladder – also intending to stop Bassett reading his Times - but enters the wrong room and, wearing and unable to remove a pig mask, is hunted through Totleigh Towers. Chaos erupts until Cyrus is accidentally knocked out by Stinker and becomes entangled in a fountain with Bertie. With Bertie’s identity as the cad and burglar about to be revealed, Jeeves steps in as deus ex machina, pauses the action, spins the fountain round and instead Cyrus is unmasked as the thief and cad.
Furthermore during the hunt through the house, the correct people have ended up with the correct partners much to everyone's satisfaction. Stinker is with Stiffy, Gussie is reunited with Madeline and Bingo is now with Honoria. Bassett has also been relieved of his copy of The Times. No-one believes this state of affairs has anything whatsoever to do with Bertie's actions and he has done little to help the situation.
The tale over, a banjo – muted unknown to Bertie – arrives and there is time for a final unique rendition of Banjo Boy.