ETC’s latest production of PG Wodehouse’s comedy is a family affair.
Graham Millar is well cast as the titular character, Ronald, a born-again con man trying to leave his fishy past behind him.
The play is ably directed by his wife, Alison. No less than three of their offspring also have starring roles. Of these, son Owain stands out as impoverished toff Freddie, son of the absent-minded and unreliably bespectacled Earl of Middlewick, played by Gerald Brown.
It’s not solely a Millar roadshow, however. There are 15 players, all of whom are necessary for driving the plot forward.
Jon Vinson plays a low-key but crucial role as amateur sleuth and ultra-efficient secretary, Baxter, to Brown’s Earl.
Everyone’s a suspect and/or an imposter in the heist of a diamond necklace. An understandably exasperated Baxter cleverly unmasks the culprit, but nobody believes him.
The 1920s setting comes across well as Freddie plays a record on an authentic-looking gramophone and everyone dances a faintly ridiculous-looking Charleston.
Stepmother Lady Middlewick scolds them.
It was quite a subversive move at the time. Costumes and furniture at Blandings Castle also evoke the period.
Psmith is the perfect antihero. He’s a scam artist but a true gentleman. To paraphrase him, a theft should always be decent. Everyone involved should be happy with the transaction.
Post-war, Americans were every self respecting Englishperson’s essential accessory at a social gathering. Alex Wilson, Philip Smith and Rhiannon Millar amiably compete for the worst US accent award.