Persuasion at the Rosemary Branch theatre was a good adaptation of Austen’s work but grew tiresome as time passed by. Austen was an excellent novelist whose literature is still incredibly popular. As such, Bryony J. Thompson has focused almost too much on the words and forgotten about the other elements of theatre. It made the play almost futile knowing that the more developed novel was available to read. The actors were good but, with almost two hours of listening to lines delivered in the third person, their performances became monotonous. The set and costume did not help, either. Each actor was dressed in cream coloured clothing, using cream coloured props whilst standing on a stage that was also painted cream. Some may say that this neutral colouring allowed the actors to mould the set and story through their performances. Instead, it dulled the characters and their tale.
Rose McPhilemy (Anne Elliott) stood out as a particularly strong character whose performance managed to add colour to the repetitive play. I believe that that this was because the development of her character was linear without any interruption from a character change. The other actors were very good but none of the characters seemed whole due to the multiple characters they played and the continuous quick changes between them.
Theatre is about sound, visuals and the words themselves. This play did not seem to be fully focused on making itself visually and aurally appealing. The language was engaging, however, so credit to Bryony for keeping Austen’s words alive.
The play ended on a high with music and dance associated with the period. But this dancing at the end was the only part of the play that seemed to make a dent in its repetitive atmosphere.
If you love Austen, you will enjoy (and even love) this play. The language is beautiful and flows seamlessly. But if you are a general theatre lover, you will be disappointed by the lack of attention given to everything but the words .
Please an Austen fanatic today and buy tickets at the following link: http://www.rosemarybranch.com/index.php/programme/86-pursuasion