Northanger Abbey

In over two hundred years Jane Austen’s novels have rarely been out of print.  Her skills as a wordsmith have well stood the test of time, her commentary on the world in which she lived enticing and her observations on feminism not what you might expect of books written in the 1800s.

Northanger Abbey was published posthumously by her family in 1817.  How appropriate then that the director of the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, Karen Simpson, should choose to direct this Tim Luscombe adaptation in her beautiful Regency theatre 200 years later. 

As the cast take to the stage to set the scene we were captivated by the ballet like movements from Emily (Emma Ballantine) and Valancourt (Harry Livingstone) as the story drifted between reality and gothic novel.  A tribute to Julia Cave the producion’s movement director.

Creating a playful adaptation of this novel could so easily have drifted into farce in the hands of a less experienced production company.  That it didn’t is a testament to fact that this is a production created by a group of people who obviously love the book.

Our heroine, Catherine (Eva Feiler), begins as a shy, retiring, uncertain girl and blossoms into a confident young woman with a powerful set of lungs – you’ll know what I mean when she screams!

There are lengthy monologues delivered at speed and with precision, none more so than when Henry Tilney (Harry Livingstone) teases Catherine about the gothic goings on at the family home that is Northanger Abbey.

This is an excellent new production that will shortly leave its Regency home to travel the country, coming back to the county in May for a run at The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.  If you are a fan of Jane Austen you will enjoy this production, if you have been ambivalent towards her writing this could be the production to convert you.

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