Raether packages everything 
nicely into 'Jeeves Intervenes'

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic

August 20, 2010

Translating a short story into a play, adding some characters of her own and maintaining the flavor and verve of the original is exactly what Margaret Raether accomplished in her exhilarating "Jeeves Intervenes," the season opener at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre on N. Broadway.

Well-paced, deliciously silly and packed with British wit, this drawing room comedy, based on a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, presents a series of problems that only the wise and competent butler Jeeves can solve.

Bertie Wooster, a spoiled, spineless wastrel, is being pressured into marriage by his crotchety Aunt Agatha, who wants him to carry on the Wooster lineage. Her chosen bride-to-be, Gertrude Winklesworth Bode, is a strong, rich woman who is intent on molding Bertie into a man of her liking.

His old school chum, Eustace Bassington-Bassington, another ne'er-do-well presently being supported by his uncle, immediately falls for Gertrude and tries to win her over while hoodwinking his uncle into thinking that his nephew is a successful businessman.

Jeeves comes to the rescue, in his calm, cool and efficient way, appeasing almost everyone. The only one left wanting is poor Aunt Agatha, a case of poetic justice, yet her meddling will surely find another avenue.

Matt Daniels is an impressive Jeeves. He is charming and always in command, mixing his dignity and wisdom with a touch of whimsy when no one is looking.

Chris Klopatek, as the lovable but weak rich boy, does his comic schtick with his usual flair and ease. Rick Pendzich as Eustace is wonderfully doltish, providing a striking contrast to his smoother college buddy. The physical antics they engage in provide much of the silliness.

Laura Gordon creates the prickly aunt with her inimitable skill. Her costumes fit her tacky grandeur perfectly, thanks to the ingenuity of costume designer Kim Instenes. Her counterpart, Sir Rupert Watlington Pipps, the blustery military uncle, is well-conceived by Peter Silbert. Alison Mary Forbes rounds out the capable cast as the beautiful damsel Gertrude, who is looking for a husband to mold.

Scenic designer Aaron Dyszelski provided a sunny, upscale set. Alan Piotrowicz's creative lighting sometimes freezes characters in a spotlight. Director Tami Workinten, a well-known Milwaukee actor, succeeded in giving us a brisk, cleverly timed period piece. She will doubtless wear a director's hat again.

The show runs through Aug. 29 and sets the stage for a run of the usual fare of well-chosen literary works. The next play features a Wisconsin writer, Hamlin Garland, in "Main-Traveled Roads," one I'm eagerly awaiting.

"Jeeves Intervenes" is a good choice for a summer show. Don't miss it.