Pros: Strong acting and a witty script bring Marty Feldman to life.
Cons: It presents excellent questions – but does it answer them? Should it answer them?
Jeepers Creepers is an emotional and energetic look into the life and love of the late British comedian and writer Marty Feldman. Who raced to great heights in Hollywood with Young Frankenstein. The performance is both an insight and a tribute to a troubled genius. It moves seamlessly through the highs and lows of not just his career, but also his volatile yet loving marriage he shared with his tremendous wife, Lauretta.
The play takes place in a small and intimate room in the Leicester Square Theatre. It’s a room deceptively small for the magnitude of this performance, but actually quite fitting for the subject matter. The majority of the script plays out in bedrooms; so the small set works to enhance the idea of the intimacy of the bedroom. Similarly, the character of Marty seems to be constantly addressing a crowd – even when being introspective and ‘thinking out loud.’
It’s a difficult story to tell, but writer Robert Ross and director Terry Jones have done well to bring to life a thoughtful, funny and rather sad look into the story of a larger than life man.
Where this performance soars is with the portrayal of a man who is always ‘on.’ As previously mentioned, Feldman seems to imagine a crowd to address in every situation. Even when Lauretta is heartbroken at his latest betrayal, Marty can’t stop jesting to an imaginary audience at her expense. This should be enough to push Lauretta to despair, and it does, for a while Inevitably, though, it’s this same show humour which wins her around and back into his arms every time.
This raises interesting questions about Marty. Was he putting on an act, or was his whole existence an act? Can you separate Marty the man and Marty the comedian? Were they always one and the same? Crucially, does Marty and Lauretta’s love transcend his act, or is it actually part of it?
After all, Marty is an addict in every way; he’s addicted to booze, laughs, women, but also equally addicted to Lauretta. The question is whether or not Lauretta is on a higher pedestal then his other addictions. I would argue that, despite his best intentions, she isn’t.
The examination of Lauretta’s role in his life is interesting and seems to be the driving force of the play. Rebecca Vaughan is outstanding as Lauretta. She’s strong, witty and extremely funny balancing these attributes well with being neglected. She seems resigned to the sacrifices her own heart must make in order to remain with, and continue loving, Marty.
The decline and fall is a sad scene to behold, especially when considering how short of a time Marty Feldman spent alive. There’s a rather touching element of the afterlife dropped in at the end, but this performance isn’t on just for the laughs. There’s serious substance here, too.
This performance is, first and foremost, a unique look at, and tribute to, the rise and fall of a legendary British entertainer. David Boyle brings him to life admirably and it can be very much enjoyed by audiences without prior knowledge of Feldman.
David Boyle expertly brings Feldman’s persona to life. Fans of Feldman will notice some lines and pieces from his life’s work interspersed into the show. This performance paints him as a very flawed individual who you can’t help but love. See it as a tribute or see it as an education. Either way, it’s a wonderful invitation into the mind of a man who remains, in many ways, a mystery to many.
Author: Robert Ross
Director: Terry Jones
Booking Until: 20th February 2016
Box Office: 02077432222
Booking Link: http://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873541935/events