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Terry Jones to direct a new play about the life of Marty Feldman

Jeepers Creepers

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MONTY Python legend Terry Jones is to direct the world premiere of Jeepers Creepers, a play about comedy star Marty Feldman and his ambitious wife, Lauretta.

Written by Feldman’s best-selling biographer Robert Ross, and starring David Boyle and Rebecca Vaughan, Jeepers Creepers premieres in a four-week season at Leicester Square Theatre (The Lounge) from Monday, January 18 to Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Having written some of the nation’s favourite comedy in The Army Game and Round the Horne, Marty Feldman suddenly finds himself a star in his own right, with sketch show success for both the BBC and commercial TV. Then Hollywood beckons with the role of Igor (pronounced Eye~Gor!) in the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein.

But while his wife Lauretta takes to the glamorous lifestyle with alacrity, can Marty come to terms with the burden of the fame he has always craved? Excess, depression, and the inevitable decline follow. Surely laughter, and the love of a strong woman can conquer all, although the eternal conflict of the clown refuses to fade. Is he laughed with, or laughed at?

Jeepers Creepers charts one of the most powerful and complex partnerships in comedy, through the unique gaze of one of the greatest: Marty Feldman.

Terry Jones has a personal connection to the play’s subject – he wrote sketches for and appeared in It’s Marty with Marty Feldman in the late 1960s. He said: “When I joined the writing team for The Frost Report, the first person to say ‘Hello’ and make me feel welcome was Marty Feldman. He was one of those very kind and very funny people who helped all the Pythons along the way. It’s lovely to be able to say a belated ‘Thank you’ by bringing him back to eye-popping life – sort of! – on the London stage.”

David Boyle (Marty Feldman) has always been intrigued by the unusual things in life, in both his acting and illustrative work. Whether it has been playing the multifaceted chameleon actor Peter Sellers in the stage play Being Sellers, both in London and on Broadway, or playing the multitalented actor, singer songwriter and all round clever dick Anthony Newley. He has also played characters as diverse as Arturo Ui, Steve Strange, Pastor Manders, and the Radio Rentals man in Danny Baker’s Cradle to Grave. He is delighted to be playing Marty Feldman, adding another beloved, dead Jewish entertainer to his collection.

Rebecca Vaughan’s (Lauretta Feldman) theatre credits include The Picture of Dorian Gray (Bill Kenwright), Room 24 (Nuffield Theatre) and Havisham (BAC). Vaughan is also Creative Director and Producer for Dyad Productions, where her work as a performer includes Dalloway (Edinburgh 2014 and UK/International tour) and The Diaries of Adam & Eve (Edinburgh 2011 & UK tour) and as a writer and performer, Female Gothic (Edinburgh 2012 and UK tour), I, Elizabeth (Edinburgh 2015 and 2010, Adelaide 2011 and UK tour), Austen’s Women (Edinburgh 2013 and 2009, Adelaide 2010 and UK/International tour) and Christmas Gothic (UK tour 2015).

Vaughan’s screen work includes Grace’s Land, The Interview and The Dead. She is excited at the prospect of playing the power behind the comedy throne, not least because she and Lauretta Feldman share the same birthday.

Robert Ross has been writing about the history and stars of British comedy for 20 years. His first book, The Carry On Companion, was quickly followed-up by The Monty Python Encyclopedia, and Benny Hill – Merry Master of Mirth. Ross’ many other books have included reference works on the Goodies, Frankie Howerd, and the BBC celebration Last of the Summer Wine – The Finest Vintage. His published biographies include Sid James – Cockney Rebel and Steptoe & Son with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.

Ross has also produced and moderated dozens of DVD commentaries, ranging from Brideshead Revisited to 30 Carry On films. His book on Marty Feldman, Biography of a Comedy Legend, was published to great acclaim by Titan Books in 2011.

Terry Jones read English at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, and wrote and performed university shows. With Oxford cohort Michael Palin, he created the TV sketch shows Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Complete & Utter History of Britain, before becoming founding members of Monty Python. Jones directed Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which is often voted the greatest comedy film of all-time, as well as Personal Services, The Wind in the Willows and Absolutely Anything, his latest film, released last summer. He also wrote sketches for and appeared in It’s Marty with Marty Feldman.

Jeepers Creepers is produced by Martin Witts, Curator of the Museum of Comedy in Bloomsbury, which is dedicated to keeping the artefacts and memories of comedy history alive for future generations.

Tickets: Weekday: £20.50; Friday and Saturday evening: £22.50; Matinees and Previews (January 18 and 19): £18.50. To book, call the box office on 020 7734 2222 or visit www.leicestersquaretheatre.com/.

Times: Evenings at 7pm; matinees at 4pm.

Also in The Lounge at Leicester Square Theatre: The Screenwriter’s Daughter, a new American play about the life of the illustrious Hollywood icon, Ben Hecht, as seen through the tempestuous relationship between Ben and his free-spirited, young, 60s generation daughter Jenny (until November 29, 2015).