Did you know that Jane Austen did in fact write no less than 790 novels, not just the 6 we hold dear to our hearts? Until last night, neither did I!
Austentatious: an improvised Jane Austen novel, served to educate me on Jane’s ‘lesser known’ collection, with titles such as The Longbourne identity and The Empire line strikes back. For this particular evening, we were dazzled by a succinct and rather scintillating stage adaptation of ‘By J(G)ove he cheated me!’ (I doff my cap to the witty audience members who come up with these socially relevant titles)
The concept that Austentatious pull together is superb; a previously unheard Austen novella, a current affairs relevant title kindly provided by the audience and picked from a hat, a company of 6 players excellently versed in the art of improvisation, period costume, bonnets aplenty and fast-witted comedy styling, all wrapped up in an hour of acting that is worthy of the excellent, three years in a row, sell-out Edinburgh Fringe reputation that precedes them.
‘By J(G)ove he cheated me’ whisked us into classic Austen territory, a marriage of convenience with unrequited love triangles gazing longingly on, a well to do heir who had cheated an old friend of his inheritance, leaving him to work for his living (Boris would be proud of this oh so subtle, comparative retelling of his current woes)…. oh yes, and we mustn’t forget Lady Marchand, the village’s very own party girl and MDMA supplier.
I haven’t laughed for an entire hour in an incredibly long time, the company really make improvisation look effortless (It is not!) I have to say watching the cast chortling in the sidelines at their colleagues twisting the plot in a new and unexpected direction only added to my entertainment!
There is one more Austentatious moment scheduled on the Southbank at the Udderbelly (yes, that’s the giant upturned purple cow just down from the London Eye) before they head north to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Do what you can to see this truly Austen-worthy pastoral romp; I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Final show Thursday 14th July, tickets available through http://www.udderbelly.co.uk
Written by Helen Cassidy