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Posts Tagged ‘Hannah Jarrett-Scott’

Isobel McArthur has adapted Jane Austen’s novel and created an irreverent though reasonably faithful stage play which is frankly bonkers. Judging by the size and reaction of Sunday evening’s audience, it may join other off-the-wall Criterion long runners like The Third Man and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery.

Five maids busy themselves in the house on stage (excellent bookish design by Ana Ines Jabares-Pita) before they put on a frock (female) or a coat (male), and occasionally headwear (both), to become characters in Austen’s story of unmarried sisters in search of husbands. They switch from maids to characters regularly, and occasionally pick up a microphone and sing karaoke style to the backing track of a contemporary song. The costumes may be period, but the words aren’t, illustrated by the occasional profanity. These five actresses – Tori Burgess, Christina Gordon, Hannah Jarrett-Scott, Megan Tyler and the writer / co-director – play everyone except Mr Bennet, their silent imaginary dad, in an armchair with his back to us reading his paper.

It took me a short while to get into it, but when you do its a hoot. You’re really laughing with, rather than at, Austen, with a respect for the inspiration clearly evident. You can tell the five have been performing the show for some time, milking every line and every situation with expert comic timing and terrific audience engagement. It’s impossible not to get caught up in this charming, cheeky piece, which feels much like the breath of fresh air Mischief Theatre brought to the West End with The Play That Goes Wrong seven years ago.

It’s great to see eight of our best regional theatres working together to stage this for their audiences first, before transfer to London, and great to see producer David Pugh picking it up and hopefully giving this very talented company a national, even international, profile, and a decent, healthy run. The cheers and the standing ovation spoke for themselves.

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Janis Joplin has a very small part in the soundtrack of my life. Piece of My Heart might get into my Desert Island Discs if they allowed a few hundred rather than eight. Still, she’s an important part of a key musical period, so I decided to give this a go.

The first thing to say is that it really isn’t a musical, not even an example of the much maligned juke box musical. The second thing to say is it’s musically very good. Both the singing of the alternate Janis, Hannah Jarrett-Scott, and the playing of the four piece band are exceptional. There are no characters other than Janis (apart from a brief intervention by the guitarist) who chips in biographical nuggets between songs. It’s really a concert tribute interspersed with some biographical monologues and on those terms it works.

It wasn’t the sort of show to see on a Saturday afternoon (but it was the only time I could fit it in) but The Stratford East audience lapped it up and gave them a worthy ovation.

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