Currently on at the Genesian Theatre, this adaptation by Tim Luscombe is a witty and at times acerbic morality tale from the pen of perennially single Jane Austen, perhaps the original singleton à la Bridget Jones. In this story the heroine Anne Elliot finds herself in an awkward position when an erstwhile suitor that she rejected – Captain Frederick Wentworth – is re-introduced to her company after the war. Anne was acting at the time on the advice of Lady Russell, who took a maternal interest in Anne’s welfare as the young woman’s mother was long dead.
When we find her, Anne is thought of as dangerously close to on the shelf, as she is still single at the advanced age of twenty-seven, having never gotten over her former fiancée Wentworth. Now that he has returned she hopes to win him back. Naturally stumbling blocks pop up and a red herring or two threaten the entire endeavour.
Rose Treloar as Anne Elliot is precise in delivery and authentic as the young woman longing to re-connect with her lost love. All of the cast do well with the dialogue straight from Austen. Tom Massey as the over-preening Sir Walter Elliot rates a mention as Anne’s father. Massey is delightfully insufferable as Sir Walter and occupies a far too small amount of time on stage, given the great comic relief he provides. Nick Fitzsimmons is another whose rascally countenance was vastly amusing as Charles Musgrove.
Set design is minimal this time around for the Genesian, yet entirely serviceable for the varied scenes. The costumes by Susan Carveth are not as lavish as previous productions but are keeping with the Regency theme.
Luckily for Austen’s heroines, they have a decidedly better fate than their creator, as love always prevails in Austen’s universe.Typical of the Austen oeuvre there are a lot of yearning glances and several mishaps before all is resolved, but resolved it is and the final kiss is a staple of Austen’s work, which the Genesian excels at producing.
On at the Genesian Theatre until 17 August, for more information and tickets see: http://www.genesiantheatre.com.au/
Director: Trudy Ritchie
Adapted by Tim Luscombe
Featuring: Rose Treloar, Kendall Drury, Charlotte Robertson, Angela Johnston, Nick Fitzsimmons, Natasha McDonald, Vitas Varnas, Elias Parker, Tom Massey, Jodie Sibley, Catherine Waters and Rod Stewart.