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Two-year battle for Lincoln-based theatre group to stage Jeeves and Wooster play

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: February 26, 2013

Simply splendid: Carry On, Jeeves written by Jez Ashberry, stars Jason Hippisley as Bertram Wooster and Graham Turner as Reginald Jeeves

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It took two years for a local amateur theatre company chairman to persuade the Wodehouse Estate to allow him to write a new play based on the Jeeves and Wooster stories.

But persistence paid off and tickets are now on sale for Carry On, Jeeves written by Jez Ashberry and staged by Lincoln-based Common Ground Theatre Company.

Wodehouse never wrote a play about Jeeves and Wooster, though the short stories were turned into a TV series in the 1990s starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

"Wodehouse was probably our finest comic writer and his stories about Jeeves and Bertie Wooster are some of the funniest ever committed to paper," says Jez. "I've always loved the Jeeves and Wooster stories and I was really disappointed to find there was no play available for theatre companies to perform."

Jez refused to give up despite an initial 'no' from the agents for the Wodehouse Estate.

"They eventually said yes subject to them seeing the script first. I then set about re-reading all the stories.

"Once I'd decided on the best stories to adapt, scripting the play was quite straightforward. The writing is so superb I just had to let the characters speak for themselves. The Wodehouse Estate came back saying they were very pleased with it and we had the rights to put it on."

Set in the 1920s and starring Jason Hippisley as Bertram Wooster and Graham Turner as Reginald Jeeves, Carry On, Jeeves begins when the wealthy young bachelor Wooster first engages Jeeves as his valet.

During the course of the play Bertie relies on the unflappable Jeeves to extricate him from a series of misadventures involving cats, hats, fish, a manuscript and a hot water bottle.

As the fun progresses audiences will meet an array of memorable Wodehouse characters, including fearsome Aunt Agatha, Bertie's alarming fiancée Honoria Glossop and the intimidating nerve specialist Sir Roderick Glossop.

"When you read the stories they are all narrated by Bertie – it's all his thoughts and opinions. If you just use the dialogue from the stories you miss out on all that. So one idea I had was to allow Bertie to talk to the audience so you hear what he is thinking.

"Anyone who loves Wodehouse humour and his inimitable style of writing will love this play. It's full of memorable locations and characters. We also have incredible music and costumes.

"We have put together a live swing band as well, so we are creating that whole atmosphere."

Lincoln Drill Hall, March 14-16. Tickets: £10 (£8 concs). Box office: 01522 873894.

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