Jane Austen at home

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Jane Austen at Home



02/03/2017

 

Jane Austen at Home review

When I first heard the words ‘Jane Austen’ and ‘one-woman show’ used in conjunction with each other, I must admit to feeling some apprehension. However, the performance of ‘Jane Austen at Home’, in the Ship Theatre yesterday, very much proved my fears to be unfounded. We were treated to a delightful show that allowed us to discover more about the creator of the beloved novel Pride and Prejudice, that we were studying for our approaching IGCSE, and to see glimpses into Austen’s other novels.

The performance provided us with a window into the world of Jane Austen that we had previously not seen, with her lively and playful letters to her beloved sister Cassandra being juxtaposed with the absurdity of the Sense and Sensibility extract in which Mr Ferrars shares his views on cottages. I must admit that, had I not had a programme, I would have been rather lost within the show, in which quick jumps were made between the various letters of Jane Austen as well as her novels and interludes from 'The History of England'.

The first half of this show was delightfully comic, with rampant giggles occurring; particularly during a Persuasion scene in which Sir Walter Elliot has views on the people of Bath, and 'The History of England' interludes, in which the “villainous” Queen Elizabeth and “heroic” Mary Queen of Scots quite twisted our normal perception of history. The second half took a slightly darker tone, opening on a highly emotional and considerate letter Austen was writing to her brother Francis, to inform him of their father’s death, and ending with the eventual death of Austen herself after a gentle and sweet-tempered letter to her other brother Edward. Despite this rather depressing opening, the second half gave us great insight into the world of Pride and Prejudice. One particularly funny scene portrayed Lydia's obnoxious and amusing behaviour, the scene’s dialogue was so typical of Lydia and Emerald O’Hanrahan (the actress of this show) played her to perfection, with her giggly and superficial nature plainly displayed. A particular favourite scene of mine was the monologue of the ridiculous and simultaneously humble yet proud Mr Collins. Whilst reading the novel, we have seen Mr Collins as very much a fool, and yet this show enabled us to see that he was completely sincere in his comments to the Bennets on his grand patroness, the Lady Catherine de Bough, adding a whole new level of ridiculousness to his character.

Despite original feelings of foreboding towards this show, it was highly enjoyable and left many of us raving over Emerald O’Hanrahan’s acting, and the seamless flow of the show, to our friends that had not had the pleasure of viewing it. The script and direction (by Stephen Siddall and Jeremy Musson) led to a highly enjoyable experience that swept us from our seats into the world of Jane Austen and her characters in a way that had us spellbound right from start to finish.

Francesca Eagle, Year 11

 

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