Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

Improv and Improvability

Rating ***

13.30-14.30, Laughing Horse @ Counting House

The six players that make up the Milk Monitors attempt to bring to life those Jane Austen novels which history has forgotten. According to them, there are not only the six well known novels that have been pored over by young and old alike, but instead an infinite number of possibilities based entirely on audience suggestions. While I was there, the choice was made to avoid both ‘50 Shades of Mr Darcy’ and ‘Tis Pity she has Chlamydia’ for the more savoury ‘The Heiress of Pemberley’.

Thus began a tale of the Wicker brothers, the eldest a pipe smoking rogue, the younger an attentive if overly fashionable dandy encouraged to marry by their bumbling father, who had lost their fortunes due to a penchant for extravagant coats of arms. They appear to seek the hand of a Lady Caroline Pemberley, cousin to the Witcher-Pemberleys who unfortunately are not to inherit any of the family money. To cut to the chase, nothing much happens in this hour long show, but that’s not to say it is not enjoyable.

It is testament to the wit of the players that there was a queue of hopeful audience members queuing far out of the door before the show began and the room was truly full to bursting with people electing to stand rather than being turned away. My advice would be to turn up well in time since given that this show is part of the Free Fringe, it clearly garners some popularity. However, the improvised nature of the show, which is so critical to its appeal, may lead to its downfall – performances may be either brilliant or sub par, and the element of Austen, which was already tenuous at points, may, for better or for worse, slip away entirely.

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