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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 9
Bloomin' delightful - Jeeves in Bloom will get you in the mood for summer
Arts & Entertainment
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Bloomin' delightful - Jeeves in Bloom will get you in the mood for summer

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

JEEVES IN BLOOM
TAPROOT THEATRE
Through March 2


Taproot is presenting what might seem like a summer confection in the middle of winter - suitable for a breezy laugh, a raised pinky finger, and all-things-British farce. Jeeves in Bloom is based on a classic character by P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote several books about the butler extraordinaire, Jeeves.

Jeeves can figure out any problem and offer unique solutions. He's much, much smarter than his employers and everyone turns to him in a pinch. In Jeeves in Bloom, Margaret Raether adapts the Wodehouse stories into a stage play and a jolly farce. Karen Lund directs a lovely ensemble of actors, headed by Matt Shimkus as Jeeves.

The play feels like it's been around a long time, but was first produced in 2009. It has an 'old' feel to it and is somewhat predictable. We already know Jeeves will find a way to set everything right, so most of the fun is in watching the actors overact and be silly.

On a basic English garden of a set by Mark Lund that somehow manages to make the small Taproot stage look quite enormous, Jeeves' current employer, Bertie Wooster (Aaron Lamb), drags a love-struck and socially incompetent friend (Randy Scholz) to the home of his aunt and uncle (Kim Morris and Stephen Grenley). They have found out that the object of friend Fink-Nottle's crush is staying there, since she (Marianne de Fazio), too, is related to the couple.

In addition to trying to backwards-Cyrano the couple together - Bertie provides lovely words that he does not feel to his friend from the shadows - Aunt Dahlia wants Bertie to steal some family diamonds so she can pawn them for cash for her magazine. Throw in a petulant, self-involved chef losing his prized pre-publication cookbook (Parker Matthews), and you have all the ingredients of a stew ready to simmer.

The look of the production is perfection with lovely costumes by Sarah Burch Gordon and soft lighting by Roberta Russell. Morris and de Fazio get the lion's share of broadly comic characterization, but everyone has his or her moment to be silly. Scholz has a particularly fun scene in which he gets drunk and is finally able to release his inner lover.

The timing is well-done and the script leaves just enough mystery that you can't quite be sure how things will work out. A quibble might be that there is no real place to hide on the set, so the production's requirement that you believe a small, very skinny bush can hide a person is a rather large request. Still, Taproot is very much in its usual element with this show. For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call (206) 781-9707.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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