Austen Empowered

Miss Juliet Smith (Amanda Stewart) is reluctantly entering the marriage market enthusiastically encouraged by her Aunt Roberta. Austen is indeed empowered by peppering the usual gentility with modern references and, may I say, incorrigibly crude references. This is the stuff that comedy is made of without doubt.

Although I felt that the script could have pushed the contrast between the language and Austen gentility a little further, it was well performed and entertaining.

We enter into a Pride and Prejudice parallel plot with characters very closely based on the originals but with different names. At first it seems like a simple parody but it becomes apparent that the original characters are out there somewhere. The roles are familiar but their language and behaviour most definitely isn’t. At one point Juliet (Elizabeth surely) calls her beau Mr James Hallworthy aka Darcy (Howard Timberlake) ‘a prick’ which certainly would have saved Austen a lot of time in writing her tome. He takes it well however and the story continues. When Fanny Pivet (Emma Rose) comes onto the scene we are transported to a hen party in Brighton with her lurid pink dress and forward behaviour. This is a woman desperate to be married but only to someone who can keep her in “Prada, darling”. Her attempts to ensnare the speech-impeded Wickham character Major Rupert Temperton (Jason Thomas) are rebuffed as he only has eyes for Juliet’s very hirsute aunt (Dave Mattless).

The drunken post-Ball scenes with Juliet and James joined by Humphrey Pivet and Lucy Jennings were comical and well acted. In the final scene we are entertained with a Eurovision-style musical number complete with lip-syncing and then the revelations come thick and fast. The proposal we are all waiting for is not quite what we expected.

Although I felt that the script could have pushed the contrast between the language and Austen gentility a little further, it was well performed and entertaining. It wouldn’t take much to get that extra star.

Reviews by Gill Balfour

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Performances

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The Blurb

Forget everything you thought you knew about Austen in this hilarious romp around the parlour, swapping vol-au-vents for vodka and parasols with a Primark handbag. Sublime japery entwines itself with murky secrets, a sizzling romance and a meathead in a frock.

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