Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010

Jeeves From the Gallery

Milwaukee Chamber's New Show

By Russ Bickerstaff
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I felt as though I was attending Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s season opener—Jeeves Intervenes in partial costume. There was a classic black eye patch over my right eye. Due to my having sustained a blow to the left eye—an un unwanted gift from someone I’d never seen before, I had been suffering from a partially detached retina. The gas bubble in my right eye meant that it would be necessary to see the show from the top row of balconies so as to reduce the strain on the lens of the eye. The Broadway Theatre Center’s accommodation of my condition was just the latest in a series of events that have me identifying quite well with Jeeves’ helpless employer Wooster. 

A string of health care workers went out of their way . . . driving to office to office to outpatient hospital. Standard procedure. I was asked what I “do” by a string of people. I would find out that one of my nurses had a son who had studied with the Milwaukee Ballet. My anesthesiologist had a son who took improv classes with First Stage. And My ocular surgeon had plans to go to Jeeves Intervenes on the same night that I would be attending. (That was kind of a weird coincidence . . .)

The view from the gallery center was beautiful. It’s kind of a steep drop, but almost all of the stage is visible from up there and one gets an interesting view of the action onstage. One of the great pleasures with Director Tami Workentin’s direction here is the blocking . . . particularly as it relates to Matt Daniels in the role of Jeeves. The impeccably perfect valet is very, very precise and Matt Daniels does a brilliant job of moving around onstage with a perfect An elevated view of the stage gives one an elevated appreciation of this. Jeeves’ timing is precise and poised . . . Daniels only faltered from this perfection in brief moments Saturday night . . . his performance was almost flawless . . . tea carts martini glasses, handkerchiefs and such are all brilliantly delivered at all the right moments thanks to Daniels’ razor-sharp sense of perfection. And it’s all much more visible from the gallery than it’s likely to be on the ground floor, where furniture, objects and other cast members are likely to get in the way of the action.

Daniels precision as Jeeves is a small part of the production, which Workentin and   company deliver quite fluently

Milwaukee Chamber’s production of Jeeves Intervenes runs through August 29th. A comprehensive review of the show runs in this week’s Shepherd-Express.

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