ED FRINGE: Austentatious – Underbelly, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

You’re invited to attend the social event of the season. And it’s going to be absolute chaos.

Making name for infusing the prestige of Jane Austen with the improve tactics and sly humour of some of the nation’s best comics, Austentatious has continued to claim it’s crown as the Fringe’s favourite improvisation comedy and theatrical piece. Give them a title, any title, and the team with spin a yarn Austen herself would be envious of. Borrowing themes, character skeletons and stereotypes of the genre, Austentatious removes all sense from the sensibility but continues to claim the pride they full deserve.

This evening’s title? Twelve Hangry Northmen. And try as you might to guess where the characters and jokes may emerge – we guarantee you haven’t a clue to the avenues and jokes the Austentatious crew can conjure up. Let’s just put it this way. Never has being a baker been quite so dangerous. Envious to the speed and quality of the production improv is staggering, and though some elements or character name flubs occur (one can’t be expected to remember all of this on the fly), the arching quality and even depth to some of the jokes is quite wonderful.

But let’s take a moment shall we, to appreciate the driving force of this bakery, this unmitigated chaos onstage, and this very obvious Les Miserable fan in Ms. Amy Cooke-Hodgson. An absolute treasure to the company, Cooke-Hodgson’s quick wit and ability to turn others lobbed grenades into her own is a masterclass in quick-paced comedy and improv. Tidy, humorous, and able to roll with the punches and flubs, Cooke-Hodgson represents everything tremendous with the company.

And where the flubs roll, cast members are able to pick the ball up with ease and speed, turning the gags and skits with a quitter reception into forgotten moments dwarfed by the show’s gems. This quick fix ability is largely attributed to the stellar musical talents of the companies guest pianist, who whips up an accompanying piece with ease to match the situation – from distress, to romance, to witches burning at the stake, and even a few copyrighted classics.

Unshackling the Period Drama’s fuddy and dusted visage, Austentatious flings away the chastity belts and corsets for a marvellously contemporary reimagining of Austen’s world-renowned novels. Maintaining a respect for the originals they borrow from, dignity may be flung out the window, but buckets of laughter take their place. With so many appetites to appease, Austentatious manages to find a way to satisfy the masses of Edinburgh, and those Twelve Hangry Northmen.

Reviewed on 12 August 2022

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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