Theatre Review: AUSTENTATIOUS – THE IMPROVISED JANE AUSTEN NOVEL, The Lowry, Salford

AUSTENTATIOUS UK Tour 2017

AUSTENTATIOUS is a Regency treat is guaranteed to delight Austen novices and die-hard fans alike

Fresh from six sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a monthly residency in London’s Leicester Square, AUSTENTATIOUS heads out once again with a brand new UK tour. 

Performed by some of the country’s quickest comic actors, AUSTENTATIOUS is an improvised comedy play spun in the inimitable style of Jane Austen. Based entirely on a title suggested by the audience, every show is completely different and made up on the spot. As the audience take their seats, each person is given a slip of paper to write down a title of a ‘lost’ Austen classic. A suggestion is then picked out at random which the seasoned cast must spontaneously improvise and create into a complete dramatised play.

The ‘lost’ Austen masterpiece recreated at The Lowry was ‘Fantastic Husbands and Where to Find Them’, a bizarre and bonkers love story featuring Dame Judy Dench and American playwright Arthur Miller. Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Andrew Hunter Murray, Cariad Lloyd, Charlotte Gittins, Daniel Nils Roberts and Rachel Parris did a fantastic job of creating some ridiculously silly characters, as well as a wickedly funny storyline full of obstacles, forbidden love and, of course, a happy ending, all performed in full Regency costume with live musical accompaniment.

Anybody who have seen AUSTENTATIOUS will know that the small but talented cast know their craft extremely well. A large part of the comedy comes from watching them run with ridiculous ideas, taking throwaway comments from earlier in the show and turning them into integral parts of the plot,

As expected from an improvised comedy play, the storyline isn’t always the most logical or believable and some of the comedy does become a little silly and convoluted at times. The 90 minute production also loses a little momentum after a while, giving the impression it would have been more suitable to have two shorter improvised plays rather than one long one.

That said, this Regency treat is guaranteed to delight Austen novices and die-hard fans alike and you can’t fault the cast for their terrifically funny performance. No wonder AUSTENTATIOUS is one of the most talked about shows on the improvised comedy circuit.

(4 / 5)

AUSTENTATIOUS – THE IMPROVISED JANE AUSTEN NOVEL performed at The Lowry on 15 October and is on tour until 23 November 2017.

About Donna

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1