GOOD MORNING, BILL
By P.G. WODEHOUSE
220 E. 4 St.
(212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com
September 19 – October 12, 2003
Directed by CARL FORSMAN
Scenic Designer NATHAN HEVERIN
Lighting Designer JOSH BRADFORD
Costume Designer THERESA SQUIRE
Sound Designer STEFAN JACOBS
Stage Manager LARS PREECE
Choreographer CHRISTINE SUAREZ
Press Representative KAREN GRECO
Marie – Jenny Mercein
Lord Tidmouth – Nick Toren
Lottie – Bridget Ann White
Bill – Jeremiah Wiggins
Dr. Sally Smith – Heidi Armbruster
Page-Boy – David Standish
Uncle Hugo – John Vennema
Well, Keen Company is at it again, and this time they have mounted a beautifully packaged production of P.G. Wodehouse’s GOOD MORNING, BILL. A refreshing diversion from the reality of modern life, this witty romp about a wealthy, yet undirected young man who falls for a feisty, dedicated doctor is the kind of play that an audience can slide into with the comfort of putting on a favorite pair of slippers.
In keeping with their goal to mount "unexpected revivals," Keen has chosen a sweet little satire by the witty British humorist Wodehouse, best known as the creator of the Wooster and Jeeves characters. What matters most in plays like this, GOOD MORNING, BILL, is the ability of the director to comprehend the subtlety of the jokes, and for the cast to hit all of the right marks. Here, they do. Ironic when necessary, over the top at the highpoints, and wonderfully wrapped up in the time and place depicted, everything falls right where it ought. Save for some really odd behavior that the script requires at the end, and that feels rather strange, everything else goes down smoothly.
This is feel-good diversion. It is the type of play that you do not have to think too hard about, but that, when well designed and executed, is just that much more pleasing. I suppose a play like GOOD MORNING, BILL could be dismissed as mere fluff, but it really is more subtly observant of the human condition than that. For, P.G. Wodehouse was a masterful observer of class differences, social mores, and the inherent witticisms to be extracted from the everyday duties associated with cultural niceties. Under the studied, yet swift direction of Carl Forsman, the cast reaches full potential. Add to that the impressive sets and costumes (Nathan Heverin, Theresa Squire respectively), and you have got a real stunner for off-Broadway.
I will admit to being an avid Anglophile, and a fan of British humor. However, I know good work when I see it, and Keen Company’s GOOD MORNING, BILL is one current example. Being a fan of that sense of humor from across the Atlantic may make it that much more enjoyable, but is most certainly not requisite.
- Kessa De Santis -