Jane Austen's Guide to Pornography
This article is from 2009.
19th century literary superstar gives masterclass in romance
Despite the enduring popularity of her novels, 19th century literary superstar Jane Austen remains something of an enigma. Was she really the peevish, watchful stay-at-home spinster of popular imagination? Or did a truly passionate heart beat beneath that starched exterior?
Steven Dawson’s literary time travel comedy imagines Austen swapping notes with a blocked 21st century playwright named Brett. He’s in dire need of a masterclass on romance for his tale of two gay men who meet while auditioning for a costume drama, while she could do with some advice on injecting raw physical passion into her work.
The production, for Australia’s Out Cast theatre, really catches fire when all three strands come together, Dawson skilfully jump-cutting between Austen and Brett’s frantic attempts to write and Brett’s play-within-a-play to create an enjoyable, multi-layered, fruity farce. The play takes a while to establish its characters and conceits, however, and for a piece with such a racy title, it all gets just a touch too corny and sentimental in the closing stages.
Zoo Southside, 662 6892, until 31 Aug (not 21), 5pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£7.50).