Jeepers Creepers, Leicester Square Theatre, review: ‘No sense of fun’

Rebecca Vaughan and David Boyle in Jeepers Creepers. Picture: Steve Ullathorne.

Rebecca Vaughan and David Boyle in Jeepers Creepers. Picture: Steve Ullathorne. - Credit: Archant

The direction of ex-Monty Python star Terry Jones fails to ignite this biographical account of his old boss Marty Feldman, says David Winskill.

Two generations have grown up with only the haziest idea of who Marty Feldman was.

He died ridiculously young at 48 but left a legacy of some of the world’s finest comedy writing and performance.

Credits include Educating Archie, At Last the 1984 Show, Round the Horne and the Frost Report as well The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine and films including Young Frankenstein.

Robert Ross’s Jeepers Creepers opens during the 1973 shooting of Mel Brooks’ movie in Hollywood. Following an embarrassing attempt at audience participation, Marty chats to his wife Lauretta (played with conviction by Rebecca Vaughan).

And that’s it really.. a 90 minute chat, either on a bed or on the phone. Either sober or, as we progress to 1982, drunk.

We learn about his early life, family, his heroes (Buster Keaton) his self destructive personality: a child testing boundaries to see how far his behaviour will provoke a reaction in adults. Luckily, that behaviour is channelled into comedy.

Most Read

Unfortunately there isn’t much fun in this play: the laughs could be counted on one hand.

It’s a transparent rehearsal of things Marty has done, things Lauretta wants him to do and people he has met. The roll call is impressive (Sinatra, Milligan, Groucho, Welles, Dylan Thomas et al) but taken together the evening is an awkward, flat and failed attempt to remind us of the genius and significance of Marty.

Directed by Ex Python Terry Jones, David Boyle has the facial hair and captures the mannerisms and frenetic energy of Feldman without really conjuring him up.

The Lounge proves to be a bad space: it’s like watching drama in an overcrowded used-furniture shop. The sight lines are so bad that less than half of the tiny audience could see Marty fall and die.

I really wanted this play to work, to see a comic genius introduced to a new generation. He deserves much better. Anyone with an interest should save the four hour round trip, stay at home with a bottle of red and plunder old youTube clips.

Rating: 1/5 stars