Full houses at Oxford Playhouse are savouring work of multi-faceted brilliance in a translation to the stage of Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Remains of the Day.

The upstairs, downstairs world of Downton Abbey combines with that of P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster in the richly satisfying adaptation by the gifted playwright Barney Norris.

The comical social document thus suggested is subsumed in drama of a darker hue, however.

For here strut figures from the 1930s as preposterous as Wodehouse’s ‘Black Short’ leader Spode, but more dangerously real.

Goosestep forward, please, Lord Darlington (Miles Richardson) with an order to butler Stevens – the superb Stephen Boxer – to purge Jewish maids from the staff.

In pace behind marches MP Sir David Cardinal (Stephen Critchlow) – a Nazi if ever there was one – exasperated to find that democracy has anything to do with national governance.

All the state-of-the-nation stuff is marvellously blended in with a study of Stevens’s stalled relationship with housekeeper Kenton (Niamh Cusack on matchless form).

With infinite subtlety, and marvellous acting, we are shown that this Mrs Danvers-like figure, as she presents initially, could have become Mrs S., had he been able to unbutton just a bit from starchy butler mode.

Even the death of dear, doddery old dad (Pip Donaghy) – his mentor in the matter of forelock tugging – can’t deter him from duty.

Norris seamlessly combines the pre-war action at the hall with a mid-1950s trip to Cornwall by Stevens during which he tries, in his guileless way, to connect with his now long-married former colleague. Cue a cafeteria meeting as heart-rending as that in Brief Encounter.

This Out of Joint production, under director Christopher Haydon, comes in association with Oxford Playhouse. All involved can feel justly proud of their work.

Until Sat. 01865 305305, oxfordplayhouse.com