QUAYS News entertainment reporter Charlotte Sumner was at The Lowry theatre in Salford watching Austentatious for us last night. Here’s her verdict…

Austentatious: An improvised Jane Austen novel brought to theatres by the unique Milk Monitors, is a comedy in which members of the audience contribute suggestions of a Jane Austen novel, which the talented cast bring to life in the wondrous and witty style of the beloved Austen herself.

Before stepping into the Quays Lowry theatre, each person was given a pamphlet containing a slip of paper which asked for a made up title of a Jane Austen novel, with the promise that one lucky novel name will be performed at the show that night.

When finally sat in our designated seats, members of the cast dressed head to foot in costume from the Austen time era, walked round and collected the title suggestions to put into a black top hat.

Whilst this was taking place, musician Corrina Connor beautifully played the violin, and continued to produce the only music throughout the night, attentively, to follow with the action taking place on stage.

Finally, lights dimmed, and an introductory address was given by Dr. Sam Pattion, PH.D who revealed that the performance of the night, picked by a random member of the audience, would be called ‘The baby lied’.

The cast made up of Joseph Morpurgo, Cariad Lloyd, Rachel Parris, Andrew Hunter-Murrary and Charlotte Gittins; together on stage, these actors seemed to have a pleasing, flowing friendship with a solid bond, and they all performed exemplary.

Of course, with the play being improvised, there’s no script, no plot and no stage directions, thus, just about anything could happen. At times, the unpremeditated storyline (An anti-Christ whose kiss turns a man into a goose) on stage got rather confusing, especially with the introduction of more multi-role characters i.e. good old Billy Bob Thorton.

Nevertheless, the Lowry echoed with laughter hurled by the audience, as this was a play that never stopped giving. Bursting with cracking one liners and sexual innuendos, meta-theatricality these actors helped each other out when mistakes, or hesitations occurred, making the play even more hilarious and loveable.

Austentatious will not be everyone’s cup of tea, you will either love it, or hate it. Improvising on stage can never be easy, but whilst watching the talented cast string together a storyline from a suggested title by the audience, it felt less like watching a play, and more like watching a talented group of friends throwing endless banter back and forth. If you want a night of proper belly laughter, then it is a must see play, especially for those Austen fanatics out there! Who knows what you can expect?

By: Charlotte Sumner

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