On Thursday, I went along to my first experience of Austentatious. I say ‘first experience’ because I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely be going along to see them again!
Austentatious is a show from ‘The Milk Monitors’. It is a complete hour-long improvised comedy story loosely-based on the works of Jane Austen.
Before they begin, they pass round a basket to be filled with title-suggestions from the audience. This gives the theme for the play to be loosely based on. (If anyone used to listen to the marvellous ‘The Masterson Inheritence’ on Radio 4 in the 90’s, but repeated frequently on 4Extra, it is exactly the same idea!)
Previous show titles have included Man-filled Park, Pride & Predator, Mr Arsey, Tents & Tent Stability…the list is (almost) endless.
During the intro, two or three titles are blindly picked out that ‘almost made the cut’, and then the actual title is picked out…and on Thursday, the randomly chosen title was ‘Tax & Taxability‘.
Our story was based in Hemel Hempstead, starred Lady Beatrice Beatrice and Pastor Parson amongst others and featured a scandal, a grand ball, lost wealth, plenty of blessings and lashings and lashings of gin.
It was hilarious! The cast know their Austen, and they work with each other so effortlessly. The parts where they forgot their names, or whether they were a Lord or a Viscount or stumbled over silly phrases or forgotten words for things wasn’t brushed off, it was embraced and referred to later to aid the continuity (eg, the Lord claimed to have lost his vast wealth by not paying his taxes).
It was totally enjoyable, and the way that they wrapped it up exactly within the hour gave it the time to be fabulous without starting to grate or get ‘samey’. Me and my mate are planning to go to another show in a couple of months.
Also, when I checked out their website, you can imagine how delighted I was to read this:
“Austen is understood to have written a number of lost novels, novellas, cartoons and plays. Some of these appear to have been irrevocably damaged by fire or exposure; others are believed to have been misplaced by publishers; a few may have been purposefully destroyed by Austen herself. Most recently a collection of 576 of her short stories was found behind the bins of the Walthamstow Lidl, much to our delight.”