Review - The Stage
25th Nov 2014
Published Tuesday 25 November 2014 at 10:06 by Tony Mallion
The hard-working Hotbuckle Productions is on an extensive tour with Persuasion but few venues could be more suitable than Great Yarmouth’s St George’s Theatre, a magnificent Wren-style 18th century chapel which adds so greatly to the atmosphere.
Shropshire-based Hotbuckle started out with school productions before moving successfully into adult adaptations of classics, with Adrian Preater’s script bringing to life Jane Austen’s world of society, manners and its language. He is the mastermind behind a production which is small in scale but big in imagination and delivery.
Three chairs and four plain flats, hand-held sound effects and clever movement take the cast of four from Bath to Lyme Regis, while they deftly multitask musical instruments and character changes using simple yet effective costume devices of a shawl, jacket or collar. It is pure theatre magic.
Emily Lockwood as Anne Elliot maintains that typical Austen trait of being lovelorn yet with a spark of independence, Clare Harlow achieves a wide range of female characters and ages and Peter Randall subtly brings us the two contrasting male suitors. Director Adrian Preater is equally adept at switching roles including the self-important Sir Walter. All of this could so easily lapse into broad farce, yet the strong love story and individual characters are perfectly maintained with humour emerging from the narrative.
Verdict: A hard-working, multitasking cast turn Jane Austen’s novel into a highly persuasive and magical production