Saturday, May 7, 2016

Promise And Promiscuity

As you might expect, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, which is in full swing at the moment, is mainly focussed on stand-up comedians with the occasional double act or group thrown in for good measure. But there are also some other things going on. One of these is a new musical by Jane Austen (and Penny Ashton) called Promise And Promiscuity, performed at the Circa Theatre. With a title and pedigree like that, how could we not go?

As you might expect, the show, a one-woman performance by Penny Ashton, is loosely based around the novels, manners and mores of characters from the works of Jane Austen. It features Miss Elspeth Slowtree and how she finds a husband. Penny Ashton also plays all the other characters in the production, including her mother and sister, her snorting cousin, aunt, and other incidental characters. Many of the lines and scenes from Austen's novels are worked into the narrative, although sometimes subtly changed, such as the use of Lower Huttington Grove, the writer Wilbur Smythe, and the absolute authority on manners, Miss Kimberline Kardashian. There are also many references to modern-day issues such as pay inequality, "but I'm sure that won't be the case 200 years from now" as Miss Slowtree frequently quips, in asides to the audience. Interspersed with the narrative are several humorous songs and at one stage, audience participation is required from an unfortunate chap in the front row.

The show lasts about 70 minutes with no interval. In the programme the notes read: Writer/Performer/Publicist/Producer/Production Design/Concept/Bonnetter: Miss Penny Ashton (I'm quite tired).

If you know your Austen, you will enjoy this production. If you don't know your Austen, you'll still enjoy this production! If the closest you've got to Austen is Bridget Jones's Diary, you'll still appreciate it.

 At the end of the show, Penny gave a quick speech about the production, and exhorted us to tell all our friends. This is running at Circa until 21st May, so if you get a chance go and see it. Later in the year she's taking it to Canada and Edinburgh,

Afterwards she was available for photos and also selling her fridge magnets, which we thought worth the $5 cost:

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