Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Julia Pattison
Theatre Correspondent
1:01 AM 22nd April 2023

Wodehouse In Wonderland

Robert Daws 
Photo: ©Pamela Raith Photography
Robert Daws Photo: ©Pamela Raith Photography
As we took our seats in York Theatre Royal’s Main Auditorium, we already felt very much at ease seeing the delightfully comfortable and elegant set, (designed by Lee Newby ) lit up to make PG Wodehouse’s home look extra warm and inviting.

Well known actor Robert Daws got a hearty welcome of warm applause from the audience (mostly of a certain age ) as he bounded on stage, who no doubt remembered his character Tubby Glossop in the Fry and Laurie television series of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster, and were looking forward to a spiffing one-man play.

With Robert a natural to play PG Wodehouse, this marvellous monologue/memoir piece, written by William Humble, and directed by Robin Hereford, clearly shows the affection and shared passion the three of them have for PG Wodehouse, and the respect that they have for each other’s work. All three have known each other for many years, and this comes across in the cosy, conversational style of the piece, making us feel that Wodehouse is taking us into his confidence.

Robert Daws 
Photo: ©Pamela Raith Photography
Robert Daws Photo: ©Pamela Raith Photography
We learned that Wodehouse (aka Plum) clearly adored his wife Bunny (Ethel Wayman) and his stepdaughter Leonora affectionately known as Snorkles).Through the guise of dictating letters to her, we learn a lot about his irritating experiences with his bally biographer, and how much Plum longed to be left alone in peace and quiet to do what he loved best – write. We were also treated to some nostalgic music performed with great sparkle by Robert during the light hearted first act.

Things got rather darker in the second act, when we learned about ‘ the great shame‘ Plum experienced when, after being interned by the Germans as a prisoner of war, on his release in 1941 he rashly agreed to do a radio broadcast from Berlin to reach his readers in America. He little realised that his delivered texts, written in internment to entertain his fellow prisoners, which had been intended to boost, not damage British morale, ended up being broadcast in the UK as well as America by the Nazis (who he admitted, ‘gave him the pips ‘ ) and caused many people in the UK, including friends he’d known for years to turn against him.
In the end, so hurt by accusations of being a traitor and collaborator, once he was able to, Plum returned to America, never returning to his homeland of the UK.

Robert Daws 
Photo: ©Pamela Raith Photography
Robert Daws Photo: ©Pamela Raith Photography
His only “crime“ it would seem, was to be naïve, unaware of the terrible suffering the Nazis were inflicting in their lust for power.

His contemporary, George Orwell, who knew only too well what was going on in the world at this time, admired Wodehouse on meeting him, declaring that he understood the appeal of "living in your lovely little bubble… your beautiful dream-world".

Luckily for us, despite this “ Berlin Blunder“, along with Plum’s devastation at the death of his beloved Snorkels (after what should have been a routine operation ), he went on to continue writing bally brilliant Jeeves and Wooster stories, no doubt taking comfort in creating a world of wonderful wheezes rather than woes. What a wonderful legacy he left behind.

Read our Q&A with Robert Daws
Robert Daws Q&A On Wodehouse In Wonderland

Wodehouse in Wonderland: is on at York Theatre Royal until 22 April. Box office 01904 623568