Theatre Review: Austentatious

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Copyright Robert Viglasky 2018

If you are not cash or time rich, then going to the theatre can seem like a luxury. If you add to this a show that is impossible to predict and whose quality is not guaranteed, then the decision to see Austentatious could be difficult. It shouldn’t be.

Rule number one of improv, is to “Yes, and”. That translates to agreeing with whatever a fellow improviser says, and building on it to create a flowing scene and not one where both performers are trying to force their idea into the scene. As an amateur improviser myself, I understand the difficulties of sustaining this for just 30 seconds, but for an hour and a half, the masterful improvisers of Austentatious dazzle the audience with quick witted, Jane Austen themed tomfoolery.

No show is the same and starts with a monologue, delivered by Andrew Hunter Murray, gifting the audience with a potted history of Austen and explaining the format of the performance. The audience is then asked to shout out joke names of Austen books, which the talented performers spin into a full-length play. The performance I witnessed was titled, “The Good, The Bad and The Darcy” and involved cocaine addiction and a Pablo Escobar lite Darcy. That might not be your cup of tea, but your version might be filled with the Bennett sisters owning a gourmet restaurant or Emma Woodhouse running the country under an anti-austerity campaign.

This specific, outrageous format could have made the play hit and miss. However, with myself included, the audience was roaring with laughter, making it clear that the humour is universal. For Austen lovers, or the illiterate alike, each play will transport the audience to a new world, using the language, characters and styling of a Jane Austen novel.

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