Last chance to catch Persuasion
Friday 30th June 2017 @ 14:44 by Nigel Skinner
Entertainment

It’s your last chance to catch Persuasion by Jane Austen which is playing at The Royal Exchange Theatre – the last night is tonight.

This contemporary production is a gem, breaking the traditional style of Austen by replacing petticoats and bonnets with spandex suits, gold bikinis and foamy bubbles cascading the stage!

Adapted by Jeff James with James Yeatman and directed by Jeff James, the themes of love, marriage, courtship and second chances are at the heart of this romantic comedy and the last novel that Austen finished before she died.

The story is set between 1814 and 1815 towards the end of the Napoleonic wars.

The play is performed in a Brechtian style of theatre with the actors being present in the audience and some of the actors in dual roles.

The heroine of the story, Anne Elliot (Lara Rossi) is magnificent in the role.

Anne’s family have no choice but to leave the family home at Kellynch Hall due to her father Sir Walter accumulating debts and Anne is reluctant to move to Bath.

Bath is regarded as the ideal place in which to find a good husband and at 27 Anne is considered an ‘old maid.’

This situation reflects Jane Austen’s real life when her parents moved to Bath with Jane and her sister and Persuasion could be viewed as autobiographical.

Anne is the older sister and is in turmoil about not being married, as marriage becomes the main focus in the play.   

She was persuaded by her family to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth when she was younger because all he could offer her was love and ambition.

Wentworth returns as a successful and handsome Captain which throws Anne into further turbulence because he has not forgiven her.

Wentworth, played by Samuel Edward-Cook, is now a good catch and is flirtacious with the ladies who seek his attention.

Edward-Cook is an actor of great natural strength and totally believable.

Anne’s sisters Henrietta (Caroline Moroney) and Elizabeth (Cassie Layton) are outstanding in their roles and Layton is very charismatic in both roles of Elizabeth and Louisa.

Other notable performances are Anne’s godmother Lady Russell (Geraldine Alexander), Mary (Helen Cripps), Sir Walter (Antony Bunsee), Charles (Dorian Simpson), Arthur Wilson (Edmund).

The part of young Samuel is played by different actors throughout the run.

The innovative set designed by Alex Lowde must also be mentioned as the raised stage revolved and dramatically separated.

The actors gliding around in the stream of bubbles that bathed the stage and almost the audience was a superb feature, making this production very memorable and also Charles’ sparkling spandex suit was very entertaining!

Contact the Royal Exchange box office for tickets 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk for more information.

Review by Denise Evans