Jeepers Creepers Review: Terry Jones’ Sad Ode To Marty Feldman
“Comedy is hell,” opines wild-maned comedian Marty Feldman (David Boyle), as he tries to fix a lousy script in a lonely hotel room in Mexico City. This would be where the London-born semi-star would die of a heart attack brought on by causes uncertain at the age of 48.
The years that led up to that moment is the focus of Jeepers Creepers, a two-hander staged in the Leicester Square Theatre’s claustrophobic lounge space under the direction of Ex-Python Terry Jones. The play explores the possible reasons for Feldman’s early demise: the self-destructive boozing, the arguments with his shrewish wife Lauretta (Rebecca Vaughan), and the self-flagellating stress of a perfectionist performer finding himself out of his depth in Hollywood.
It’s a play of two halves. The first is the more romantic and jokey (though it has to be said, a lot of the gags seem like old chestnuts now). Marty and Lauretta have landed in LA and he is on the cusp of great things with his performance as Igor in Young Frankenstein set to launch his movie career. Lauretta loves the lifestyle and the money, but Marty wants to be an artist. By the interval it’s clear the two are incompatible and thereafter the play turns darker. Thankfully the jokes dry up, and the performers seem much more comfortable on this more dramatic territory. Ultimately, we get a sad portrait of a mismatched marriage and a comedian who never quite reached the level his natural talent warranted.
That Terry Jones had a personal connection is clear from his attempts to go beyond what’s in biographer Robert Ross’s uninspired script by filling each scene with accents, pratfalls and a restless hunt for levity. Boyle tries hard, but he just doesn’t have the funny bones the script keeps mentioning, so we never get that sense of the livewire, life-of-the-party Feldman that Jones knew, meaning that as a tribute — which is really what it wants to be — it is largely unsuccessful.
Jeepers Creepers is on at the Leicester Square Theatre until 20 February. Tickets £20.50. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 28 January 2016