“I say Jeeves, rally round will you?”
“I shall endeavor to give satisfaction sir.”
“It would not be overstating the case to say that this is one of the scaliest dilemmas ever to have presented itself.”
* * *
But hang on dash it all, I’d better go back a reel or two and unleash a bit of context for the general reader.
You see, when I was engaged to go to New Zealand to partake of the Midsummer Night’s Dream festivities, up to and including treading the boards with our friends from China, well I sprang like a young gazelle to take advantage of the jamboree.
After all, N.Z. what with the jolly old International Date Line and so forth, is exactly as far away as one can go without coming back! How and when in the world does a chap collide with an opportunity like that?!
Little did I suspect that whilst I was merrily playing games of Whizz, Bang, Pop, with my fellow thesps. at the pre show warm-up, fate was quietly slipping a powder of poser into the sherbet. Viz:
My old chum Philip Aldridge, Chief Exec. at The Court Theatre, was slated to play that master of comic prose Pelham Granville Wodehouse in a world premiere of a play called PLUM. Cutting to the headlines of the case, when yours truly hove across the horizon, the Aldridge, nothing if not a cove to seize upon the happenstance, put it to me that I might do a stint as his stunt double and undertake the portraying of the great man, myself.
It would be departing from veracity if I told you that I was all sympathy for Aldridge’s plight, he being somewhat more than fully occupied with the navigation of the various re-building considerations and negotiations at hand. No, the truth is, the opp. to play one of the greatest humorists that ever lived (albeit in this part of his life story a startlingly silly old duffer and one that made a profound mistake), well it was a chance that no aspiring performer could pass up.
That’s what theatrical types call the backstory, we now resume the parlay with Jeeves …
* * *
“You see Jeeves, two weeks ago I looked like this:”
“And here is the publicity shot for PLUM:”
“Ah yes, sir.”
“You see the problem, Jeeves?”
“Quite so, sir.”
“Wodehouse the tweedy old fart in the semi-recumbent posture, this we can do, Jeeves.”
“The likeness is extraordinary, sir.”
“But what of Wodehouse the wordsmith?”
“Many have tried, sir. I fear few …”
“Peerless, what? Stands alone kind of thing?”
“Exactly so, sir.”
“And here’s the rub, Jeeves. Wodehouse the ex-sportsman, the cricketer, the rugby player of his youth? The trim physique, Jeeves.”
“What’s to be done, Jeeves?”
“If I may suggest, sir. I fancy the time has come for the formal deployment of O.L.M.”
“O.L.M., Jeeves? Talk plainly man. This is no time for obscure reference.”
“Operation Leading Man, sir.”
“Good heavens, Jeeves!”
“Indeed, sir. As the latin has it: in mens sana in corpore sano.”
“Dash it all, Jeeves! I do wish you wouldn’t speak dead languages at times of crisis.”
“Quite so, sir.”
“But I say, one is known in three continents as a trencherman of considerable accomplishment …”
“It is the only way, sir.”
“What? Nix the carbs? Deep six the sherbet? Undertake strenuous exercises in the manner of those johnnies from the Indian subcontinent?”
“These and other measures, sir.”
“Well look here, Jeeves, mix me a stiffish brandy and soda, would you? And if you forget the soda, you won’t hear me complaining. A final snifter before the campaign begins, what?”
* * *
PLUM opens on 9th August at The Court Theatre, Christchurch, N.Z. and plays till 30th August.
O.L.M. is ongoing …