Monday, 9 March 2009

Austentatious - Landor Theatre

Music: Matt Board, Joe Slabe

Lyrics: Matt Board, Joe Slabe
Book: Matt Board, Jane Caplow, Kate Galvin, Luisa Hinchilff, Joe Slabe

Director: Lotte Wakeham
Choreographer: Tim Jackson
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile

When the Camberford Regional Arts Panel decide to perform a new ada
ptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ written, choreographed and starring a long time member of the group, none of them realise what they are in for. Any problem that could befall an amateur dramatic group does, from lack of men, to broken props, to jealousy between cast members and a clueless director who is adamant he knows everything about the story because he has seen the film! Overseeing this chain of events is the Stage Manager Sam who doggedly continues to make costumes, photocopy scripts, cope with numerous cuts and blocking changes and manages the chaos that surrounds her.

Will anyone survive till opening night? Will there be an opening night?

This fast paced musical bubbles over with fun, energy, enthusiasm and some very witty one liners. I could not find fault with any of the actors on stage, all the characters were very strong and the singing was brilliant and clear. A mixture of chorus numbers, duets and ballads also gave the cast a chance to show off their obvious versatility and varied the pace of the piece to stop it descending completely into farce too early on. Only occasionally were words lost during songs, and that w
as when characters were singing over the top of each other. This problem was exacerbated for me because I was sitting at the side of the stage and couldn’t always see all of the characters all of the time. I imagine if I was sitting face on to the stage this wouldn’t have been so much of a problem.

The pace of the piece slowly builds from the initial audition, which had a very strong feel of the opening of ‘A Chorus Line’ to it, through to the opening night which descends into a manic and cleverly crafted farce. I found I enjoyed the second act much more than the first because by then I knew the characters and could empathise with them and their plight, somehow you still wanted them to have their opening night even though it could be a disaster.

As long as you are not a die hard traditional Jane Austen fan or are very precious about the running of an amateur dramatics society you should enjoy this production. It satires all the character traits and problems that can be experienced during an amateur production and exaggerates them to create a slick comic musical that will make you laugh out loud.

Photos: Michael McAdam

Austentatious runs at the Landor until Sat 28th March 09
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