‘Some fine comic minds at the height of their powers’: AUSTENTATIOUS – West End

In Comedy, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Shanine SalmonLeave a Comment

Fortune Theatre, London – Monday nights until 22 July 2019

A fixture in London and the Edinburgh Fringe, Austentatious is an eight-strong troupe of comic improvisers. Creating a fully improvised story at each performance in the style of Jane Austen based solely on a title suggestion from the audience, they are now embarking on a Monday night residency at the Fortune Theatre (described at last night’s performance as a ‘haunted cube’) until 22 July 2019.

At the press night performance I attended, the story was ‘Maid In Chelsea, Strumpet in Brixton’, which was leapt upon by the cast, giving us a tale that took us from a look at scripted reality in 1814, through the tearooms of Greggs, via the foggy godforsaken wasteland that is Slough. And the six performers at this particular show (the cast rotates, although there is not a weak link to be found) mine each scene to full comic effect, mixing what you’d expect from a Jane Austen story – burgeoning desire, social climbing, courtly dancing – with what you definitely wouldn’t – a pitch-perfect Made in Chelsea parody, a monologue expounding the delights of south-west London, a villainous producer called Mr Channel-Four with trousers made of oil (it made sense at the time, I swear).

One of the joys of seeing live improv is that the audience is secretly hoping something could go wrong – not cataclysmically wrong, just wrong enough to see the whites in the performers’ eyes. And in this spirit Austentatious all keep each other gamely on their toes, never making it too easy for one another, to the repeated delight of the audience. While comedy is the number one priority of the night, the cast works hard to make sure that the story comes to a satisfying resolution – plots are dovetailed, villains are despatched, and a happy ending comes to all who deserve it.

Austentatious is, at its heart, the chance to see some fine comic minds at the height of their powers. While each show is unique, they are all told with the kind of spontaneous wit of which Jane herself would no doubt be proud. Highly recommended.

Shanine Salmon on RssShanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.
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Shanine Salmon on RssShanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.

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