Hit comedy co-writer Robert Goodale shares his story

Robert Goodale, co-writer of Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense at Buxton Opera House from September 10 to 12.
Robert Goodale, co-writer of Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense at Buxton Opera House from September 10 to 12.

The Olivier Award-winning West End comedy Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense will be at Buxton Opera House next week, as part of a national tour.

Co-writer Robert Goodale talks about its creation:

How did your stage adaptation of P.G Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster come about?

I had turned some of the Jeeves & Wooster books into one man shows during the late 80s – I was playing Bertie, telling stories and playing all the other characters too.

Twenty years later, Mark Goucher (who had produced The Code of The Woosters) suggested to my brother David (who had directed it) that I do it again. David pointed out that a 60 year-old Bertie might be pushing the bounds of credibility so Mark suggested that the two of us rewrite it.

We imagined what would happen if Bertie put on an evening’s entertainment all on his own. Inevitably it would fall to pieces, but Jeeves would be standing by in the wings.

Aside from your Jeeves work, it seems your career has been all about acting?

My career only really kicked off after doing the one man shows. Alan Rickman, who was playing Hamlet, came to see The Code of the Woosters at Edinburgh Festival and then suggested me for Rosencrantz, which I went on to do. That led to a very enjoyable career in TV and theatre.

It’s come full circle and I’m performing ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ again, twenty-four years later.

You are currently playing the part of Seppings, tell us about the role?

Originally Jeeves was doing all the work, pushing scenery and playing other parts but we realised that there needed to be another character.

Aunt Dahlia’s butler, Seppings, was the obvious choice and we decided he would have a ‘particular aptitude for impersonations’. Seppings is on his last legs, but when he performs the other characters, he lights up the stage.

The team won an Olivier Award for Best Comedy, that must have been a huge thrill?

It was, especially as I was convinced that we hadn’t won. We were seated a long way back and nowhere near an aisle.

In my acceptance speech, I told a story about a day early on in the run when Mark Hadfield (then playing Seppings) was indisposed. A woman in the audience got excited and told her husband that one of the actors was off but the writer was going on in his place, to which he responded ‘What! P G Wodehouse?’

Why should people come and see the show?

My brother and I created a monster (albeit a charming and friendly one) which now has a life of its own. People say that it has its roots in vaudeville, farce and even pantomime, whilst at the same time realising the true comedy of P G Wodehouse’s brilliant novels.

l Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense runs from September 10-12. Tickets £23-£25. Contact 01298 72190 or wwwbuxtonoperahouse.org.uk