Miguel Castellano on the floor, then left to right: Calder Shilling, Claire Marx, Kelly Karcher and Tyler Matthew Campbell in ‘Jeeves Takes a Bow’ at Taproot Theatre. Photo credit: Robert Wade
Set in the spring of 1932 in New York City, ‘Jeeves Takes a Bow,’ onstage now at Taproot Theatre Company, is a delightful play that brings to life the characters of P.G. Wodehouse’s famous novels. The play revolves around the quiet yet resourceful butler Jeeves and his hapless employer, Bertie Wooster. Sound familiar? That might be because of the award winning British television series, ‘Jeeves and Wooster.’
The story begins when Bertie reunites with his old friend Binky and is quickly coerced into participating in a theatrical production, an arena where he has no particular skill or interest. Bertie finds himself entangled in a web of mistaken identities, romantic entanglements and comical misunderstandings. As the play progresses, Jeeves uses his wit and impeccable problem-solving skills to navigate the chaos and save the day.
Filled with witty banter, eccentric characters and hilarious situations, ‘Jeeves Takes a Bow’ captures Wodehouse’s signature style. The play showcases the enduring bond between Jeeves and Bertie, with Jeeves consistently rescuing Bertie from his own follies. Though it is clear throughout the play that Jeeves has something up his sleeve, the audience remains just as unaware of his plan as Bertie and his pal from England (who has also traveled to New York City), Binky. They constantly turn to Jeeves looking for help, and they are never let down.
Bringing 1932 to 2023
The production is brought to life through colorful period costumes and impressive comedic timing, including several chase scenes complex enough to require a fight choreographer to be part of the production crew. The 1930s dialogue and inflection almost feel over the top at times, but make sense in the context of the play. One would be disappointed if “Knuckles” McCann didn’t say, “Here’s mud in your eye!” as he throws back a shot of bootlegged liquor.
Calder Jameson Shilling (Bertie) and Miguel Castellano (Binky) both gave excellent performances as two bumbling Brits trapped in the chaos of their own making. They get into some silly near fights, but are clearly old friends dedicated to helping one another, no matter how outlandish the scheme.
The rest of the cast is filled with characters who are a lot of fun and bring plenty of their own drama. From “Knuckles” McCann, the “legitimate business man” to the aspiring actress Ruby LeRoy, to the prim and proper Vivienne Duckworth, you know more fun and chaos is in store as each character walks onto the stage. There were many lines that got big laughs from the audience, and folks were still smiling as they left the theater.
Tweens and older audience members will be entertained
The play is recommended for children ages 10 and older. Teens and older audience members will be the most likely to find this fast-paced play entertaining, though there is enough physical comedy to keep theater-minded tweens invested as well. If you’ve got a theater kid in your home who loves a good laugh, they will probably enjoy this production. And with TeenTix, it’s a deal you can’t refuse.
With its clever, quick dialogue and ridiculous (yet entertaining) situations, ‘Jeeves Takes a Bow’ offers the audience pure entertainment and laughter as it explores themes of love and the power of friendship. This show really is the bee’s knees.
If you go …
When: ‘Jeeves Takes a Bow’ is on stage now, and plays through June 17, 2023.
Tickets: Tickets are $15–$56, with the least expensive shows on weeknights. Purchase tickets online — and soon, as some shows are already sold out.
Health and safety: Masks are optional and proof of COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required for entry. See more details about health and safety policies on the theater’s website.
Running time: The total running time is one hour and 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.