Oh Andrew Lloyd Webber. I WANT to like you. I really do. You just make it so hard!
I don't even know where to start with this one. At the beginning I guess.
It's week 6 of Andrew Lloyd Webbers The Shows Must Go On series so we have had most of the big hitters like Phantom and Jesus (He is clearly saving Cats for something special in the near future like the apocalypse) so this week it was the turn of one of his lesser known productions, By Jeeves.
By Jeeves is the rewritten version of his 1975 show Jeeves. It originally ran in the West end for a short run in 1996 and this version was filmed in Canada in 2001.
I should start by saying this isn't your typical Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. It's more of a play with music to start. You won't find any cats licking milk or messiahs frolicking with Spice Girls. Instead you are faced with a plot (and like most Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, that word is used very loosely) about Jeeves and Wooster and a banjo concert. That's basically it.
Straight away, you draw similarities with The Play That Goes Wrong. While this show obviously pre-dates that, it cannot compete with how well Mischief Comedy carry out their Goes Wrong shows. The slapstick and farce that takes place is more cringeworthy than funny and has been done to much more success in the recently revived Noises Off.
The other similarity that comes to mind is another show centred around a banjo, the far superior Half A Sixpence. The problem with drawing similarities when watching an Andrew Lloyd Webber show is it can rarely compete, so by drawing comparisons this show was always destined to fail.
Most Andrew Lloyd Webber shows suffer from only having one good song and a lot of filler making up the rest of the show. I'm pleased to say By Jeeves escapes this.. by not having any god songs at all. The title song 'By Jeeves' is the closest to being memorable but you would not be humming any of them after the show finishes.
Apart from the lack of plot, poorly executed slapstick and misjudged tone of the show, it is also incredibly long. After 2 hours I was slowly losing the will to live but I stuck through with it for a sense of achievement. I can only compare watching all of it to doing a bushtucker trial on 'I'm A Celebrity' though I would gladly eat kangaroo testicles than watch this again.
The biggest problem with the show is the "comedy". It just does not work whatsoever. Andrew Lloyd Webber should stick to doing what he does best and leave the comedy to the professionals. I've seen some underwhelming and frankly awful Andrew Lloyd Webber shows in my time but this is very clearly the worst. And for some bizarre reason it's his favourite! Think that says a lot about him to be honest.
Usually I would give a rating out of 5 stars but this won't even get one star. At least it manages to make Love Never Dies look good by comparison.
If you would like to torture yourself, the show is available to watch on youtube.com/TheShowsMustGoOn until Sunday 10th May at 7pm. Direct link below.