Who knew Jane Austen had written over 900 books?!
Austentatious is an improv company, who are trying to rediscover all of Jane Austen’s ‘lost’ books. No two shows are the same, as they only find out the title of the piece they are performing each evening, from an audience member as the show starts.
Before selecting a title, the cast ask for a number of suggestions, before using the one with the biggest reaction. At the Epstein, the title with the biggest cheer happened to be: Home Alone 2: Austen New York, and with a moment or two to prepare, the cast started telling the story.
The majority of the laugh of loud moments definitely came, when the plot related more to Home Alone, as it seemed slightly surreal to watch Jane Austen-esque characters do the famous Macaulay Culkin pose or even talk about main plot points from the Home Alone films. It was amazing to be able to see how the actors minds worked and to watch them processing every moment and helping each other with what could come next, most of the time with hilarious outcomes!
The cast deserve the utmost respect for what they are able to do on the stage each evening. To be able to tell a story each evening, and one that no two audiences will be able to compare, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre! The cast comprises of 8 performers: Andrew Hunter Murray, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Daniel Nils Roberts, Rachel Parris, Graham Dickson, Charlotte Gittins, Rachel Parris, Joseph Morpurgo and Cariad Lloyd. Each performance will consist of five or six of the company, (the Epstein were minus Cariad Lloyd) along with a musical accompaniment (Dylan Townley at this performance, who appeared on stage 15 minutes before the start of the show and was able to play a number of different styles, with no music in front of him!) There were moments during the show that the cast kept corpsing at what their fellow actors were saying or doing, and this made the audience laugh much louder and harder!
There was one performance that I don’t think I’m ever able to unsee, and many people were still discussing and laughing as they left the theatre, and that was the scene in which Andrew Hunter Murray portrayed a disco pervert. Whilst it doesn’t sound like an appealing character, Hunter Murray was able to provide moves that left the whole theatre in stitches! However, whilst this was the one thing that the majority of people will remember from the night, it does need noting that every single performer did an outstanding job, as improv is not an easy task and not something everyone can do!
Austentatious is an evening for all – young and old, male and female and fans of Austen’s work, as well as those who have never read one of her books! You won’t be disappointed after an evening in the cast’s more than capable hands!
Reviewed by: Jenn McKean
Reviewed: 26th October 2019
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★