‘Jeepers Creepers’ is a play about the life and death of Marty Feldman; a much-loved comedian, director, actor and writer who was best known for his work in the 1960s and ’70s. Directed by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, the focus is on Marty’s life off-camera and, in particular, his relationship with his wife, Lauretta. Broken up into three main scenes, the play spans the later years of his life, from his notorious portrayal of Igor in ‘Young Frankenstein’ in 1974, to his death in 1982.
The play has a cast of just two – David Boyle, playing Marty, and Rebecca Vaughan, playing Lauretta. This intensifies the focus of the production on the relationship between Marty and his wife, from the time when they had left England behind for Hollywood and Marty was becoming a big name. The set is fairly simple – a bed and a few tables – meaning that the scenes are mostly set in either the marital bedroom, or the hotel room where Marty died at just 48.
Not knowing a lot about Marty Feldman before I came, particularly his personal life, the most I probably learnt was that he drank too much, cheated, and doubted his own talents. We also see that Lauretta was a constant driving force behind Marty for him to take his work more seriously, not screw anything up and earn big money. Their relationship is clearly strained, but we do seem to see real love between them. And despite the subject of divorce regularly coming up, it never became more than a topic of conversation.
David Boyle gives an energetic performance, and provided a constant torrent of quips and comical voices for the audience. He is a terrific actor and I actually found his portrayal of Marty quite good and fairly amusing – although unfortunately at 26 I might’ve been a little too young to understand some of the references.
Unfortunately, this play didn’t quite hit the note with me. There was a lot we never learnt about Marty and much that the play never even attempts to touch on. Whilst this may be intentional, the constant focus on his strained relationship and the bickerings he had with his wife left me exhausted and eventually a bit bored. Fans of Marty Feldman might be a little disappointed not to learn more about the man himself from this production, and regrettably it just wasn’t for me.
Reviewed by Rachel Callaghan @WIAAProductions
Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Jeepers Creepers is playing at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge until 20 February. Book tickets here