JEEVES IN THE MORNING, City Lit Theater Company, at the Ivanhoe Theater. Like Christmas windows at Field's, whiskey-sodden fruitcake, and controversies over displaying Hanukkah bushes in public spaces, Mark Richard and Page Hearn's performances as amiable twit Bertie Wooster and his ingenious butler Jeeves are an indispensable part of the holiday season. Mincing about with his hilarious battery of gestures and mannerisms, Richard is a perfect contrast to the unflappable Hearn.
What sometimes gets lost in City Lit's dependable display of the Wodehouse wit is how skilled an adapter Richard has become. His Jeeves in the Morning--which has something to do with Bertie's convoluted attempts to play matchmaker while maintaining his own bachelorhood and evading a bumbling constable--segues easily between action and narration, capturing Wodehouse's droll observational humor without sacrificing the lunacy of his plotting. Director Pauline Brailsford and her design team have added delightful details, including an all too brief fishing sequence and a witty automobile ride; able support is provided by a fulminating Thomas Shea as Bertie's Uncle Percy and a prim, self-aggrandizing Kelly Nespor as Bertie's ex-fiancee.
At two and a half hours, the inconsequential plot does drag on, and some of the smaller roles are inadequate or insufferable. But Hearn and Richard are reason enough to see this light entertainment. Hey, when I'm sitting in the Walnut Room under the tree, it's OK if a couple of the ornaments are tacky or the chicken potpie is lukewarm. --Adam Langer