REVIEW: In Jeff James' 2017 Persuasion, Austen’s final novel is given to us uncompromised in content, but in a styl… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
The Prickle (@ThePrickle) April 14, 2022
Jeff James’ celebrated 2017 Manchester Royal Exchange production has enjoyed continued success on tour throughout the UK, and now comes to fill the majestically burnt-out old theatre at Alexandra Palace.
Although James’ clever script continues to date the action around 1818, the original publication date, the cast are dressed in ‘modern’ costume (Alex Lowde) and dance (Morgann Runacre-Temple) in a ‘modern’ style: in other words, Austen’s final novel is given to us uncompromised in content, but in a style that helps relate it to a modern audience. Just like the novel’s original readers, this production makes us want to get up and dance, and to believe in love all over again.
The clearest example of this is in the family’s trip to Lyme Regis (“But that’s seventeen miles away!”). In order to convey the excitement, glamour, and erotic potential of this place, several basins’ worth of foam descends from the sky, and the cast slide around in it, wearing bikinis and speedos, to the music of Lizzo’s “Juice” blasting out.
The acting style is absurd, simple, and declamatory, bringing our attention to the artifice of the story-telling in very funny ways. The cast handle the material and choreography with phenomenal skill, keeping the laughs and the energy high. On the other hand, the production would benefit from cutting the interval and halving the two-and-a-half hours run time.
Playing 7 – 30 April 2022 at Alexandra Palace Theatre.