One of the unique aspects of The Ruffled Umbrella Company’s production is that it allows the audience to mingle and chat with the Austen family. The family talk between themselves while setting up the stage – arguing and bickering as many families do – while also greeting the audience.
We performed in a theatre in Bath, but set it in Steventon Rectory in 1792. When audience members arrived, we asked them where they were from – as the majority were from Bath, a long way to travel in 1792, it was a lot of fun for us! Incidentally, Isabel’s parents travelled from Hampshire, so some of our furthest audience members for Bath, but our closest for our characters in Steventon!
I very much enjoyed playing the flirtatious Eliza, which I’ve previously mentioned in my very first post! I also got to talk a lot about how sophisticated I was,my sun, and got to tease Jane about her not being “out” yet. It also meant I did the least work in actually setting up the stage, as I figured Eliza would be much more interested in talking to people.
Jane and Henry’s relationship was also very funny, as Jane was so focused on getting it exactly right, and Henry really didn’t know what he was doing, despite being the compère! This meant they could have little spats that the audience found very amusing. Obviously these interpretations are our own, but I hope they gave a sense of what these characters may have been like in real life.
It worked fantastically for the show as a whole, as it warmed the audience up and got them laughing before it had even started, which was very important as it was a comedy! Here’s hoping we get the same response when we take it on tour in July!