In anticipation of Friday’s special 2 hour performance of Steves and Wooster , the entirely improvised and completely unauthorised tribute to the works of P.G. Wodehouse, we spoke to Steve about the show and the Steves behind the Steves.
1. Tell us a bit about the group, when and how did you form?
Ah I think what you mean is; which came first, the pun or show! Since the idea came from the BIT’s very own Stephen Clements, and he being the pun master general, it was very much the name that came first. Stephen approached myself and another Stephen to workshop an idea based simply on the fact that we where all called Steve!
The concept of improvising Jeeves and Wooster immediately struck a chord with me. I love the period, the TV series with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry and have actually read two of the books. The thing that sets Steves and Wooster apart from other improv shows (and will be seen again in our next show Holy Unauthorized Improv Parody Batman) is the constant character swapping, anyone can play anyone at anytime. This simple device has become the engine that drives Tally Ho productions (as we are now called) and I believe creates a unique theatrical experience. High speed, highly physical narrative improv with immense freedom for game and play. It is the most fun I have ever had on stage and I believe its the combination of improv, physical theatre, farce and slapstick that keeps our audiences returning for more.
2. Who are you inspirations in the world of comedy, music and theatre?
In terms of Improv it has to be Tj and Dave, who I was lucky enough to see at the Soho theatre last year. Their ability to create a world purely from relationships is sublime, its effortless comes from over 20 years of working together. My favourite comedians are Eddie Izzard, renowned for his improv skills and tangential stories and Stewart Lee who has honed the art of self referential comedy to a transcendental level. My first love in theatre has always been the musical and Steven Sondheim for me is one the best. His ability to deliver thoughtful realistic characters within beautifully structured stories is simply better than everyone else, and he writes a great melody too! I’m not going to say much about my music taste except a gig that featured A-skills, London Electric, James Vincent McMorrow, Primal Scream, Miles Davis, Motley Cru and Aerosmith would be my perfect night out.
3. What is your favourite Jeeves and Wooster escapade?
I have a particular fondness for the series of stories that concern G’ Darcy “Stilton” Cheesewright (he has a head like a pumpkin); one of Bertie’s constant adversaries in the books. Their paths cross several times as Stilton falls in love with an ex-fiancé of Bertie, Florence Craye the renowned novelist. She is the type of woman that looks to change a man and Bertie is not looking to be changed by anyone and certainly never meant to end up being engaged to her at some point in the past. Over the course of a couple of stories Stilton becomes jealous of Bertie and Florence and actually manages to drive Florence back into Bertie’s unwilling arms. It’s a wonderful, farcical love triangle that is archetypal of the love interests in the books. The characters are preposterously pompous and opinionated and Florence, rather uniquely for women in the books, has considerable agency and drive.
4. What are the rules of the game you play before the show “Cardy hatty”?
The first rule of Cardy Hatty is you can’t tell the rules of Cardy Hatty! It’s an ancient and noble game of skill that is closely guarded by the members of the Drones club and is not for you “regular” folk.
5. What are you most looking forward to doing on the night of your show at the BIT?
Doing a two hour improv show is a great adventure. As fans of Steves and Wooster know, it can and does go anywhere. We never say no and we always, always double down on anything silly that occurs. In rehearsals we have gone further, laughed more and at times, been completely unable to continue because it was just making us all laugh so much! I guess I’m most looking forward to my fellow players Stephen Clements and Sam Hall stitching me up and making me laugh, it really is that kind of a show! It’s a slapstick journey into the unknown and I can’t wait to get started!
Steves and Wooster is on Friday 13th September at 8pm. Tickets are £10 and are available here.