Sunday was one of those days when I was looking for something light and funny at The Fringe. I had seen posters for Wooster Sauce and thought that might be just the thing.
The poster for Wooster Sauce.
Wooster Sauce is a one man show, by John D. Huston, taken from the writings of P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve been reading Wodehouse since I was a teen, as my dad had a couple of the books, and have since read even more as one of my brothers has a large collection.
Wodehouse created several notable characters such as Psmith and Lord Blandings, but Bertie Wooster and Jeeves are the two most enduring. Due in so small part to the 90s television series featuring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
Huston plays all the characters in the show, so it doesn’t work to try and compare his performance to those who’ve played the roles before. I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Huston’s performances in the past. A couple of years ago I took in his A Christmas Carol, a perennial favourite among audiences. I enjoyed last years Breakneck Shakespeare, along with his performance of Screwtape, which we hosted at St. Philip’s.
The show consists of two of the many Wooster and Jeeves stories. The first from Wooster’s perspective and the second from Jeeves’s perspective. The plots of the stories are pretty much the same, Bertie gets himself in a pickle, and Jeeves gets him out of it.
Of course, plot isn’t an important aspect of Wodehouse’s writing. The pleasure of Wodehouse lies somewhat in his gentle mocking and perhaps stereotyping of the British class system. However, the main pleasure is in his ability to work his way around the English language. The laughs are here in full measure, but not in the form of jokes. Instead they are present in witty writing well delivered.
That’s why Huston makes such a good interpreter of Wodehouse. He to is a consummate master of the English language. He has a great ear for voices and turns of phrases.
As with all of his shows Huston brings each character to life in distinct form. One of the pleasures of watching a Huston show is to watch him transition from bratty child, to bombastic old buffer, to badgering fiance all with a few, slight gestures and changes in voice.
If you’ve been doing some heavy slogging during Fringe, Wooster Sauce makes a nice break. It’s not a turn your brain off work, but rather a put your brain in playful mode work. Sit back and enjoy the English language in all it’s glory, brought to you by a performer who has a terrific command of that language.
The one thing I found disappointing at the evening’s performance was how small the crowd was. One88 was only about a quarter full and this performance deserves much better crowds. Plus any time you head to One88 there are free cookies and cheap beverages available. Take a load off your mind and take in Wooster Sauce.