EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

at Underbelly George Square

* * * * -

No two shows are ever the same for this Austen era improvised comedy drama.

Image of Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel
Austentatious Publicity Image
Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

A solitary fiddler (Oliver Izod) plays as the 19th century clad cast mingle with the audience collecting potential titles for this improvised comedy drama. The costumes and music instantly create a charming quality to the show and there is excitement in the tiered seating of the Udderbelly venue as cast member, Joseph Morpurgo, takes to the stage to choose today’s title from the audience’s own choices written in the queue as they entered: Johnny’s Tremendously Trippy Dream.

One of the most appealing characteristics of this show is that no two are ever the same and so audience members can keep on coming back for the surreal comedy day-after-day, or certainly fringe-after-fringe, if they so wish. And it is easy to see why they do, as the cast cleverly create a play around the title given (however obscure) and keep it all within the parameters of the Jane Austen era….well, most of it!

This particular performance starts with a father who comes back as a ghost, ominous warnings and a séance before building to a banking disaster, a body dissolved in cow saliva and a premonition of budget airline Ryanair. The impressive cast take the absurd in their stride though and Andrew Hunter Murray deserves particular plaudits for his quick-witted humour as butler-turned-brother, Barker, and for taking the story forward from the off.

The six cast members are all constantly thinking on their feet as the play goes on trying to tie up the story within the 60 minute time frame and the one-liners and narrative curveballs keep both cast and audience thoroughly entertained for the duration, the enjoyment on stage replicated by the afternoon audience.

Just two years ago this improvised Jane Austen novel show was part of the Free Fringe, and now they are stowing out the Udderbelly. The format works and so the company will continue to dream up new ideas until the 21st of August in George Square.