Austentatious: An Improvised Novel (4 stars)

This article is from 2014


Photo: Idil Sukan

A cannily entertaining period improv show in the style of Jane Austen

Plenty of improv, particularly long-form like this, easily becomes meandering and flabby if you take it on a journey where literally anything can happen. But they're a canny lot Austentatious: not only does performing improv in the style of Jane Austen give you an instant audience of her fans, it also provides you with a very handy structure. Thanks to the 19th century novel form, its prose style and those pretty costumes, they're already part way there.

That said much of the success of improv is due to the skill of the performers and how well they work together as a team. The players here bounce off each other; and even when they don’t, a fluffed or hesitant line is amusing anyway.

Taking the title of the piece from audience suggestion, the team work the potentially dull ‘Fifty Shades of Jane’ suggestion into a highly enjoyable narrative even working in a Morrissey guest appearance. Plus there are several laughs to be derived by simply slipping from 19th century dialogue to speech more likely to be heard in the 21st. As the hero of the hour, Soupy Baxter of the soup empire, notes of his beau Henrietta standing too close to him: ‘you've entered the dangerzone’.

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 25 Aug (not 12), 1.40pm, £9-£11 (£8-£10).

Austentatious: An Improvised Novel

  • 4 stars

An irreverent show performed in period costume, borne from suggestions from the audience.