Jeeves: Synopsis

This page contains the synopsis for the original musical Jeeves. The synopsis for By Jeeves can be found here.

It is difficult to present a synopsis for Jeeves as the musical underwent so many revisions and such substantial pruning that a definitive script was never produced. Because substantive cuts took place at every point in the process (including at several points once the musical was in performance), the website has turned to Alan Ayckbourn's original draft synopsis from July 1974, which formed the basis for the first complete draft script, parts of which were presented to P.G. Wodehouse in September 1974. This synopsis probably best represents Alan's original, unadulterated plan for the musical, which was then reduced by more than a third in length by the time it closed in London.

Act 1
Bertram Wooster is giving a lecture on the history of the banjo. However, when his banjo strings snap during his first song, Bertie dispatches Jeeves to get new strings, while he regales the audiences with reminiscences of his own adventures, which will show Jeeves in a particularly bad light.

Bertie recalls being in court in front of Judge Watkyn Bassett, accused of pinching a policeman's helmet, just as he and Jeeves are about to embark on a world cruise to escape a marriage, arranged by Aunt Dahlia, between Bertie and Honoria Glossop. Gussie Fink-Nottle arrives at Bertie's flat pronouncing his love for Bertie's ex-fiancée Madeline Bassett, who still holds a flame for Bertie. The shy Gussie implores Jeeves' help, particularly as there is a rival for Madeleine's affections in the form of Roderick Spode. Jeeves refuses to help and Bertie and Gussie agree the butler is past his best.

Bertie suggests the best way to tackle Spode is to humiliate him through insulting limericks. Gussies agrees and then announces Watkyn Bassett is coming to the flat to take him to Totleigh Towers; Gussie pretending he owns the flat to try and impress Bassett. Bertie hides in a closet when Bassett arrives with Spode in tow. Spode warns Gussie away from Madeleine (and her inheritance) or the full wrath of his Black Shorts organisation (the shop was out of shirts) will fall on Gussie. Spode discovers Bertie, who Bassett recognises from court, and throws him out of the flat.

Aunt Dahlia arrives having seen Spode leave the flat. Her Chef has been tricked into signing a contract to work for Spode and she asks Bertie to retrieve the contract from Totleigh Towers. Bertie refuses much to Dahlia's rage and she warns him to read The Times. There Bertie finds an announcement he is engaged to Bassett's ward Stephanie 'Stiffy' Byng. Bertie decides to go to Totleigh Towers to resolve matters.

At Totleigh Towers, Bertie inadvertently meets Spode and Bassett, who again recognise the 'thief', just as Bertie spots The Times. As Bassett threatens to call the police, Bertie eats the newspaper front page. Madeleine arrives and vouches for Bertie and he is invited to join tea. Gussie, confident in his limerick scheme, discovers he has lost the notebook containing all the offending Limericks.

Bertie meets Stiffy, who is in love with Harold 'Stinker' Pinker but knows Bassett will think it an unsuitable match. By announcing her engagement to Bertie in The Times, she hopes Bassett will see Stinker as the lesser of two evils. She threatens Bertie that unless he decades his love for her to Bassett, she will not return the limerick notebook she has found.

As if things could not get worse, Bingo Little arrives and asks for help in his unrequited love for Honoria. Bertie agrees to help and also asks Gussie to get Madeleine to meet him in the garden so he can plead Gussie's case. They meet and Madeleine mistakes it as a declaration of love from Bertie. Spode meanwhile has discovered Bertie's relationship to Aunt Dahlia and threatens him not to get involved.

Bertie advises Bingo to express his feelings to Honoria as though they're for a friend. At Stiffy's insistence, Bertie then goes to Bassett and declares his love for Stiffy. A thunderstruck Bassett runs away into the next room where Madeleine tells him Bertie has proposed to her. Astonished, he runs to the next room where Honoria, mistakenly believes Bingo was talking about Bertie, tells Bassett she has agreed to Bertie's proposal and he leaves the house screaming while three women pronounce their undying love for Bertie.

Act Two
Jeeves suggests it would be best to leave the country now, Bertie disagrees and say he has to follow the Code of the Woosters and sort this all out. He asks Jeeves to spike Gussie's orange juice at tea as Dutch courage may give him confidence. Dahlia arrives at the Towers and accuses Bertie of not helping her.

Stiffy now tells Bertie he must steal Bassett's silverware allowing Stinker to recover it and be declared a hero. Bertie has no choice as Stiffy has hidden the notebook in the silverware collection.

Bingo meanwhile has decided that the way to woo Honoria - now smitten with Spode - is to beat Spode at Tennis. Spode cheats in order to defeat Bingo though, leaving Honoria disgusted by both Spode's tactics and Bingo's defeat. She declares Bertie is still the man for her. Spode warns Bertie off and he pleads with Jeeves for help, who hints he may found something of interest and mentions the word Eulalie might have an effect on Spode.

Bertie's has a last ditch masterplan in which Bingo will apparently try to commit suicide out of love for Honoria, who Gussie will rescue thus impressing Madeleine. Bertie meanwhile will steal the silverware and retrieve the notebook and Dahlia's contract. Unfortunately, Jeeves has now spiked Gussie's drink.

At midnight, Bertie persuades Bingo to climb the hall railing for his 'suicide' attempt. Unfortunately Gussie has drunk himself into a stupor and Bertie props him up by the front door. Everything in place, he sets off the fire alarm. Bingo panics, slips and gets caught in the railings. The women rush from the house in panic, not even noticing Bingo. Spode and Bassett arrive and presume Bertie is not trying to save Bingo but to kill him - given further credence by the apparently dead Gussie. Bertie tries to escape but runs into Dahlia, disguised as Spode. Faced with two Spodes, Bertie remembers to shout Eulalie. Spode cringes away and Bertie escapes into the silver room, where he is floored by an over-enthusiastic Stinker.

Bertie awakes in bed to discover Jeeves recovered both the notebook and Dahlia's contract in the chaos. Stinker has proved his worth by stopping Bertie whilst Honoria and Madeleine believe Bingo and Gussie had been victims of their own exceptional bravery in also trying to thwart Bertie. The only problem is pages from the notebook have fallen out and have been found by Spode and the rest of the household.

In a rage, Spode come for Bertie who again shouts Eulalie, driving Spode away. Dahlia tears up the contract and berates Bertie, who is suddenly being treated with pity rather than as a criminal; Jeeves having announced Bertie's behaviour is caused by being a little weak in the head. Bertie decides they should take the cruise now and - as he can't face everyone - he will leave by the window. Unfortunately, everyone is gathered outside and sees Bertie struggling to get away from Totleigh Towers.

The story finished, Jeeves announces he has obtained some special banjo strings - muted unknown to Bertie - and there is time for a final unique rendition of
Banjo Boy. Bertie leaves the stage asking Jeeves what precisely Eulalie means.*

*In the Wooster novels, Eulalie refers to Eulalie Soeurs, a lingerie shop in Bond Street of which Spode is the founder and proprietor of. A secret he is obviously not keen to be revealed.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of copyright holder.