Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Mansfield Park

Yesterday I went to see a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park for the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. This is going to be a challenge, I thought. A four-hundred page book by one of the wittiest writers I know featuring a largely internalising heroine that takes me well over a day to read even knowing it so well - distilled into a two hour stage play.

But it was BRILLIANT.

A very few characters had melted away, a lot of thinking had been précised down into salient-point speeches, but what was left was pure, rich, essence of Austen. In a lot of ways, the very paring down of the text brought out the humour in the book. It certainly contributed to an instant identification of who each character was and what they were like.

Mr Rushworth declaiming
With a very clever, elegant set designed to suggest the Georgian era, the play flowed effortlessly from one scene to the next. The actors brought masses of energy and realism to their roles and I believed in each and every one of them. One of the lovely things was that the parts had necessarily to be doubled now and then, and it was evident how much the actors really enjoyed the light relief of portraying the raucous, shambolic Portsmouth household for a few scenes after the intense, restrained Mansfield Park itself.

Fanny Price
I can only applaud the stupendous acting from all concerned, the sympathetic direction of Colin Blumenau and the writer of the adaptation, Tim Luscombe. I didn't want the evening to end.

All in all, this was a fantastic production - it's on tour later this autumn, so go and see it if you possibly can.


Kristin Rae said...

Oooo I've never seen anything like this in person. Sounds fantastic!

Jan Jones said...

It was indeed, Kristin!

Jane Odiwe said...

I just saw this last night in Bath, Jan. It is brilliant-so cleverly done and so true to the book. Mary Crawford was my favourite-she is a wonderful character.

Jan Jones said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Jane. The whole cast were real stars! said...

Wish I lived in the UK then I could go and see it too