Play review by Julia Pattison: Austentatious at the Grand Opera House, York

The Austentatious actors were skilled at their craft.
The Austentatious actors were skilled at their craft.

Play: Austentatious

Venue: Grand Opera House, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

This was something completely different for me; an entirely improvised comedy play, where the audience had the chance to name the show by making up a “lost“ Jane Austen book title in order to kick start the action.

As part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe programme, a packed house waited in gleeful anticipation for the improvised performance to begin.

One of the members of the troupe pretended to be an Austen academic, and we were off!

The chosen novel was the Austen Cinematic Universe, featuring fetid Margaret amongst many other zany characters we got to know – sensible it was not, but wonderfully silly and entertaining, and it was clear that there was great trust between the actors who were very comfortable improvising with each other.

From mimed cinematic black and white buns (you had to be there to fully appreciate this reference!) to superb improvised music (Dylan Townley) and illumination (Damian Robertson), it didn’t matter whether you’d read all of Jane Austen’s works or none of them, you were still thoroughly entertained.

There was much lighthearted fun poking at theatre critics, with the choice of name of the rather pompous critic, Peter Commode setting the tone, and what a carry on the troupe had, parodying Austen, yet being respectful too.

They even managed to squeeze in a topical reference to the moon landing, “Austen, we have a problem!”

The second half particularly went at a cracking pace, and was wonderfully witty, clearly demonstrating how skilled the actors were at their craft, leading us to a very happy and satisfying conclusion.