On Thursday night I went to see Austentatious at King’s Place. Apart from being a massive Austen and comedy fan, I have always wanted to see some improvised comedy. Austentatious ticked all the boxes plus they seemed all kinds of wonderful.
They work tirelessly to bring all of Austen’s ‘lost’ novels to the public with help from the same public. Audience members put title suggestions into a hat and on stage a title is chosen and then performed. Sounds…stressful, but as an audience member it was only bloody brilliant. Past titles include Me Tarzan, You Jane Austen, Pride and UKIP, Tents and Tent Stability, and Strictly Come Darcy. All of them brilliant, especially Strictly Come Darcy and while I would love to see them all on the night I went A Dance to the Future was chosen.
This lost novel focussed on the Easter Harvest Diwali Festival of Lights and who would perform the big dance number. The ideal candidate would be Gemma (Amy Cooke-Hodgson) but her father (Joseph Morpurgo) and spinster aunt (Rachel Parris) have other ideas – she comes from a long line of Babylonian accountants and must uphold the family tradition, even if she can’t quite count, let alone do multiplications. Only her mother (Cariad Lloyd) and dance teacher (Andrew Hunter Murray) understand that she must dance and that her interpretative dance style is the future.
It has been so long since I have laughed so much at anything. It was funny throughout because of the sheer amount of spontaneity and the naturalness of the speech. People interrupted each other, spoke over each other, and questioned each other in a truly brilliant way. You don’t get this stuff in scripted shows. You also don’t get such a brilliant cast. Everyone was perfectly in sync with everyone else and that was very cool.
As I have said, I loved it. But there were some stand out moments for me:
- the finale dance sequence. Picture the scene: Gemma and her dance partner are dancing, and the audience, consisting of her mother, sister and Easter Harvest Diwali Festival of Lights organiser are talking about the dance moves they hope to see. So we have dinosaur moves, disco, and Flashdance. It was all kinds of perfect.
- the sheer amount of imaginary abacuses lining the walls in Gemma’s parent’s house. 500.
- the best joke in the whole world – ‘if you don’t learn it we will beat you with a branch from the trigonome-tree’
- Happy Eid!
- the comparison of older beauty to that of a dying rose
Austentatious are going to be touring the whole of the UK and have loads of stuff happening in London to. If yo get the chance, I can’t recommend it enough. Every evening is different and I can’t wait to go again!