Regulars at Fringe and London’s West End, the Austentatious troupe return to Edinburgh with another series of hilarious long-form improvised enactments of possible Jane Austen novels, with the help of the attendees.

The show starts with a bit: apparent Austen expert takes the stage to inform us about everything we need to know about the Regency-era author: she lived and wrote in Edinburgh, she was in fact born at the venue as her mother accepted her University degree, and she wrote thousands of novels. All of these are incorrect. But what isn’t false is the spectators’ laughter. Like other improv shows, the cast takes suggestions from the viewers, but the way they do so adds to the performance. The ‘expert’ asks for examples of people’s favourite Austen novels and the ridiculous title suggestions elicit laughs, as do the novel summaries the expert offers. Tip: go with a fun title in mind to be a part of the audience interaction and test the actors’ quick creative thinking for yourself.

Once landing upon a novel title that intrigues the cast enough (The Hesitant Butcher on 6 August), the performance begins. As they claim, none of the actors have set any plot, dialogue, scene or character, though there are certain improv tricks they employ to keep the action moving. Their mutual trust is evident, especially when they take the mickey out of one another for any slips they make, probing the actor to explore those absurd ideas further to everyone’s enjoyment. The story – as un-Austenlike as it may be – is clearly set within the realm of her books (with a few creative licenses). Tensions are created accordingly. A hero and heroine meet and sparks fly, but for some societal or contextual reasons, they cannot be together – immediately. They quickly win our favour, as they have us wishing the couple together and gasping at the shocking turns. Their timing is impeccable too: as wild as some of the directions the story might take, it is satisfyingly resolved within the show’s hour.

The cast clearly have fun on stage, and that translates. The spectators are often doubled over in laughter and cackles resound in McEwan Hall.

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel runs until Sun 13 Aug 2023 at Underbelly Bristo Square – McEwan Hall at 13:30