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Austen show sends Mr Darcy into battle
MR Darcy is the archetypal gentleman - but picture spinning a Jane Austen novel on its head and sending Mr Darcy into battle with The Predator.
That’s exactly what you get at Austentatious - an hour of improvised comedy from a seven-person team of comedians in period dress.
On taking their seats, the audience jots down their ideas for the title of a ‘long-lost’ Jane Austen novel which is then brought to life without any planning, script or direction live on the stage.
The show has played the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, received wide-spread adulation and was nominated for a Chortle Award.
Andy Hunter Murray, one of the cast members, said: "We’ve had titles like Pride and The Predator and Strictly Come Darcy.
"We had Zombie House Country Party Weekend - which was Jane Austen with zombie - it’s about pitching you in a world where you’ve never gone before.
"We’ve never been to space but I would love to do Jane Austin in space, so if anyone in Maidenhead would like to suggest it, I would be thrilled!"
Andy fell into improv comedy after signing up to a group at Oxford University, where he met three of his now-fellow cast members.
Writing jokes for popular panel show QI and Private Eye helps Andy to keep his finger on the pulse and expand his knowledge. He said: "Someone once told me you have to collect as much as you can as you never know what might pop in your head."
And far from being daunted at the prospect of standing on stage in front of hundreds of people without knowing the lines or the plot, Andy said the magnificent seven revel in the excitement of the comedic chaos.
He said: "We’ve been doing it a few years now so we don’t panic like we used to. That really helps in improv because you need to be able to trust each other and enjoy being on stage with each other.
"It’s really exciting - it’s such a thrill starting a show when no-one knows what is going to happen. "The only thing we know is it will be told in a Austen style - so even if you are in a conversation as your character and have no idea why you’re there, someone else will step in to say ‘ah, ambassador’ and continue it.
"You’re always in safe company, you just play with it and find out what the story is. We love doing it.
"We’ve been delighted with the response because we are all big fans of Jane Austen, it seems as though there’s a great deal of affection. It seems to be a show that people from eight-to-80 can enjoy it."
So get your thinking caps on - who knows what Mr Darcy or the Dashwood sisters could be up to when Austentatious touches down in Maidenhead on February 15. One thing is for sure, the cast won’t.
Tickets cost £14, £12 concession, from www.nordenfarm.org or 01628 788977.
The show will also be on at the Wycombe Swan Town Hall on June 6.
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