Austentatious is a live improvised Jane Austen show created using a single audience suggestion all done with a live music accompaniment.
‘★★★★ A joy to behold’ The Guardian
‘Highly impressive’ Time Out
Read our chat with cast members of the show below, about what you can expect from the show, performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and more.
How would you describe your show to audiences that have never seen it before?
Prompted by inspiring suggestions from our esteemed audience, in each show we act out a completely new story in the style of Jane Austen, which we make up as we go along. It has all the hallmarks of our beloved authoress; witty rhetoric, romantic frisson, farcical characters and often a petticoat-stirring love story but beyond that neither you nor I know what the story will be until it unfolds on the stage
This is your fourth UK tour. What excites you most about getting out on the road?
We live for danger. Having spent September ensconced in the humid respectability of London society, what could be more invigorating than the perils of the open road? The wind in our hair, tremulous carriage-rides over cobblestones and the sartorial flair of masked highwaymen… why, even the horses are quivering in anticipation.
Amidst our ravishing destinations, rumour has it we are to be unleashed upon ‘The Dukes’ of Lancaster and ‘The Bishop’s Palace’ in Wells, to name but two.
How does touring compare with performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
The enjoyment of one’s tour relates directly to the comfort of one’s touring facilities. If you’re to be stage fresh with your comic instruments in fine fettle, it’s important to have every luxury at your disposal for the more gruelling legs of a cross-country tour. That’s why our carriage is a state-of-the-art stretched Barouche, pulled by no fewer than 8 Andalusian steeds. The carriage really is a marvel, with two spas, three tearooms, and mini stages in the backs of the seats where we can perform miniature puppet shows in the depths of our travel boredom. By contrast, Edinburgh is a truly delightful city, however, one can grow tired of spending 30 days sleeping four gentlemen to a bed, and sharing one moist towel for personal hygiene. Reader, we’ll take the road
Why did you choose Jane Austen as the author to inspire your shows?
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a smart woman in charge of a quill provides the perfect prose on which to base one’s witticisms. Miss Austen’s characters and plots are beloved the world over and rightly so; they provide an acute mirror to one’s heart and soul and a magnifying glass to the stupidity of others. Plus, Dickens is just a little drab for our taste.
We’re approaching the 200th anniversary of Jane’s passing in 2017, and this year celebrating the 200th birthday of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, do you think Jane Austen is still relevant today?
Of course! Austen deals with the timeless themes of human life – with the heart, with character, with power and with the way we treat our fellow humans, for good or ill. We are delighted to make sport of our neighbours, and we are delighted we still have Austen’s works to laugh at and adapt every which way. For more on this, see ‘Bridget Jones’.
Do you need to be a fan of Jane Austen to enjoy an Austentatious show?
In truth, not at all! Devotees of our beloved Jane’s scribings will of course find much to enthral, but in the pursuit of enjoyment all you need be partial to is a good deal of silly fun. An entirely new novel is created every time, after all, so whether one has perused all or none of Austen’s works, one will be in entirely the same boat. You do need to be a fan of fans, though. A great number are wielded by the ladies to ward off swooning.
So your show is entirely improvised. How nervous do you get not knowing what you will be performing about that night?
After five years of touring our improvised theatricals, we are thankfully not plagued by pre-show vapours with as much regularity as our first efforts! But, of course, our stomachs are occasionally attended by skippers and swallowtails. All to the good though.
Austentatious is at the Swindon Arts Centre on Fri 11 November.
For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/AustentatiousImprov