A delightful bonus for Wodehouse fans; Jeeves Takes Charge Comedy conceived and adapted by Edward Duke from the writings of P.G. Wodehouse. Directed by Gillian Lynne. Starring Mr. Duke.
Wodehouse fans, take heart. After a widely applauded but all too brief engagement last season, Edward Duke has reopened at the Roundabout Haft Theater on West 27th Street in his own adaptation, ''Jeeves Takes Charge.'' The irresistibly funny entertainment stars Mr. Duke as the ineffable Bertie Wooster and the indispensable Reginald Jeeves. The actor also addresses his talents to a covey of other Wodehouse loose nuts, including Biscuit Biskerton, Tubby Bridgenorth, and Looney Coote.
Mr. Duke arrived on the scene a generation after the members of the Drones Club had seen their finest hours. But he comes honorably by his affinity for these amiable idiots. Young Duke was initiated into Bertie's world at the age of 7 when his father began reading him the Wodehouse stories. As he once told a British interviewer, ''I was absolutely hooked.''
So hooked that years later, when he was considering material with which to showcase himself, the rising young British actor returned to these heroes of his boyhood. The showcase led to performances in a hall over a London (Putney) pub which led to the Lyric (Hammersmith), which led to London's West End and an award as Most Promising New Actor, from the Society of West End Theatres. The show has been televised by the BBC, played privately for the Queen Mother, and traveled to various parts of the world.
The two years of research, writing, and preparation that went into ''Jeeves Takes Charge'' have paid off handsomely in the performance. In his two principal characterizations, as well as in his deucedly clever cameos of odd bodies, ranging from a newt-lover to a couple of mastodon aunts, Mr. Duke catches the antic, airy ambiance of the 1920s and '30s as fantasized and satirized by Wodehouse. Mr. Duke gives the impression that he can jump into Bertie's skin at the drop of a monocle. And his Jeeves is the very model of a gentleman's gentleman.
Carry on, Jeeves. Carry on, Wooster. Carry on, Duke!