It’s been a while since any Jane Austen-related entertainment has come our way, so we were excited to see that Wing-It Productions was producing Austen Translation, an improvised 90 minute play inspired by the characters and stories of Jane Austen. The play is unscripted and begins with a few suggestions from the audience before the story begins, so every performance is different. The actors also switch around characters so the entire cast gets the chance to play lead and supporting roles.
From the official press release:
Austen Translation tells the story of a bright young heroine’s journey to navigate the designs of her family and the delicacy of her heart. Each performance, the trained improvisational actors will give prominence to the name of one lucky audience volunteer before gathering other suggestions to create a new cast of suitors, sisters, and spinsters for every performance. Some volunteers from the audience will even have the chance to sit down on stage for tea with the more respectable members of society to give their take on the gossip of who’s engaged and who’s not.
Guess who was the lucky audience volunteer? I was chosen to name the heroine’s family. Hopefully my paternal grandmother, an English teacher, appreciated the homage!
As can be gathered from the blog post title, the Brazilian martial art form, capoeira, was another audience contribution. Our intrepid heroine was in search of a worthy sparring opponent when a group of eligible bachelors (including a ninja) moved in to the manor next door. How excessively diverting!
The actors played so well off each other and with such lively timing that it was hard to believe the scenes and characters were improvised. The banter between the characters was clever, funny, and fresh. Jane Austen herself would have been quite at home in our audience. Austen fans who “dearly love a laugh” along with Elizabeth Bennet will thoroughly enjoy the nonstop wit and subtle innuendoes that aptly honor the spirit of the author.
Returning to our performance, would our heroine’s overly sensible sister succumb to the deadly “feather lung” contracted during the village Wings and Wheels festival? Could a gentleman in possession of an effeminate sneeze ever hope to find a wife? You had to be there to find out the answers, but don’t miss out on the next story! (It was such a fun evening, I may have to return.) Austen Translation runs through February 8 and will be featured at the Seattle Festival of Improv Theater in mid-February.