Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Theatre trotting in November

1 Nov

I know, I know, this blog has been uber neglected in the last couple of months and I have no excuses apart from I have been really busy work wise, and then I was away on holiday for the most part of last month and the lack of Simon Russell Beale in any of my theatre outings is definitely affecting my desire to review anything I have seen. I will however review certain productions in retrospect, especially the ones I really enjoyed like Rigoletto and Inherit the Wind.

So my favourite month has come and what has it got in store for me? I had to give up The Habit of Art which fellow theatre trotter, A Younger Theatre kindly agreed to see anyway so the ticket didnt go to waste, and based on his initial reaction, it is a must see. I will likely see it sometime next year as tickets have now sold out until the January run.

9 – Mrs. Klein, Almeida

I booked this mainly for Clare Higgins, whom I have come to admire since I saw her play Ma Costa in The Golden Compass. And then of course I saw her a couple of times at the National in Major Barbara, A Slight Ache/Landscape and recently, All’s Well that Ends Well.

12 –Nation, Olivier, National Theatre

I have never read a Terry Pratchett novel, who knows maybe after seeing this I will?

19 – The Priory, Royal Court

My sister Shi who lives in California LOVES Rupert Penry-Jones, alongside other British actors which I will not name here or she will be accused as a player. I told her that she is living in the wrong country but did she listen? No…. Anyway, I know for a fact that she will hate me for seeing this play without her. Oh, did I say I have front row seats? Hihihi

28 – Pride and Prejudice, Richmond Theatre

I love anything Jane Austen. I just cant help it! Anyway, until Austentatious makes it to the West End, I will devour any piece of Jane Austen that is out there. Haven’t been to the Richmond Theatre either so that should be something to look forward to.

30 – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Novello

Another West End Whingers outing of this Tennessee Williams’ classic. And an all-Black cast. Wow!

If you happen to be theatre trotting on the same plays and dates, please dont be a stranger and say hello.

Gobbets – Jane Austen

11 May

My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.Persuasion, 1818

TV Review: Sense & Sensibility

13 Jan

I love Jane Austen’s works, and Sense & Sensibility is one of my favorites. The plot revolves around Elinor and and Marianne, two of three daughters of Mr. Dashwood by his second wife. They have a younger sister, Margaret, and an older half-brother named John. When their father dies, the family estate passes to John and the Dashwood women are left impoverished. Fortunately, a distant relative offers to rent the women a cottage on his property.

The novel follows the Dashwood sisters to their new home, where they experience both romance and heartbreak. The contrast between the sisters’ characters is eventually resolved as they each find love and lasting happiness. This leads some to believe that the book’s title describes how Elinor and Marianne find a balance between sense and sensibility in life and love.

Emma Thompson adapted this in 1995 winning her the Academy for Best Adapted Screenplay and garnering 6 other nominations including Best Picture. It is a well loved film by all Jane Austen purists so you can imagine my surprise when the BBC announced a tv-movie adaptation. I suppose the only good thing about that news was that it was to be adapted by Andrew Davies, who also gave us the brilliant tv version of Pride & Prejudice also for the the BBC.

It’s in 3 parts and first graced our tv screens New Year’s Day. I couldn’t believe that the first reel showed a lot of skin and innuendo, I thought, ‘what is this, Sex in the Country’? I was very close to losing my interest, but I decided to give it a chance for it might grow in me, and grow it did. IMHO, I still believe that Thompson’s adaptation was a far superior adaptation, but for a 3-part series where a lot more time is allowed to tell a story, Davies’ attempt was a good enough effort, for one thing they got the age of the characters right, no offense to Miss Thompson who did a great Elinor even it was a stretch to act like an 18 year old.

I have to salute Hattie Morahan as she was very effective playing the more practical and sensible Elinor, and every emotion she felt and kept can be seen through those eyes. Her belated reaction to Edward’s declaration of love at the end was just as heartfelt and palpable minus the famous bleugh that Thompson did in the movie, although everytime I watch the film it never fails to elicit those bottled up emotions inside me. Morahan, I later found out, has done work for the RSC and had played Nina in Chekhov’s The Seagull, and I would love to see a live performance from her on stage in the future.

Charity Wakefield did just as well but nowhere near Winslet’s perfect portrayal as the passionate and free-spirited Marianne. In the 3rd episode, as they were on their way back to Barton Cottage after recovering from her illness and finally noticing Colonel Brandon, she said after full realisation and conviction that, ‘it’s not what we say or feel that makes us what we are, but it’s what we do, or fail to do’. I couldn’t have said it any better.

The gentlemen in the cast, Dominic Cooper as Willoughby, although less dashing and handsome as Greg Wise in the film, gave Willoughby some soul after confessing to Elinor of the wrongness of his ways and why he suffers. Colonel Brandon was played by a sympathetic David Morrissey, who may not be as great as THE Alan Rickman, did quite a good job but was very well lacking in oommpphh. I thought that Dan Stevens playing Edward Ferrars was portrayed so much better than the way Hugh Grant did it in the film. And when he finally declares his love to Elinor, I swear I felt my knees shake.

One of the flaws I suppose was the lack of a very animated Mrs Jennings and Sir John Middleton. I also felt that Margaret, the youngest of the Dashwood sisters wasnt given much to play with. These characters were given so much teeth in the movie, it was a shame they were overlooked in this adaptation.

All in all it was a good effort altogether, and an adaptation that can truly stand on its own.

If you missed it, Episodes 2 & 3 is available for free on the internet by the BBC iPlayer service via this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/(The internet version is available in the UK only).

Sense & Sensibility: 3.5/5

Film Review: The Jane Austen Book Club

22 Nov

Plot: As five women and one enigmatic man meet to discuss the works of Jane Austen, they find their love lives playing out in a 21st century version of her novels. Sylvia (Amy Brenneman), is shocked when her husband Daniel (Jimmy Smits), leaves her after 20 plus years and three children. Jocelyn (Maria Bello), her unmarried best friend, distracts herself from her unacknowledged loneliness by breeding dogs. Prudie (Emily Blunt) is a young French teacher, in possession of a worthy husband yet distracted by persistent fantasies about sex with a younger student. The many times married Bernadette (Kathy Baker) develops a yearning for one more chance at happiness. Beautiful, risk-taking Allegra (Maggie Grace), Sylvia and Daniel’s lesbian daughter, has quit talking to her lover. And Grigg (Hugh Dancy), a young science fiction fan and computer whiz, seems horribly both out of place and obliviously at ease as the only man to be invited into the book circle.

I have mentioned in my review of Becoming Jane sometime in March this year, that I have only read four out of the six novels written by Miss Austen, and they are, in chronological order, as follows: Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Sense & Sensibility and Persuasion.

Like any Jane Austen fan, you’ll have favorite characters and try to relate to them as if the novels were written by Jane with the thought of you in mind. At one time I felt was more of a Lizzie Bennett -spunky, feisty and sure of herself- and that I would fall for a Mr. Darcy- successful, handsome yet very proud. Although I also loved the character of Emma Woodhouse , handsome, clever and rich but also rather spoiled as Austen herself describes her, or the Dashwood sisters with the younger Marianne as the hopeless romantic but fearless, or Elinor – the more sensible and responsible.

Single again and now in my late 30’s, I am inclined to be more like Anne Elliott from Persuasion which is now my favorite Jane Austen heroine for all time. I will also look for no less than a Captain Wentworth as a potential partner. Wait, we’re getting a little bit sidetracked, should’nt we really be talking about the film here? Believe me this prologue has got a point and I will get there now. Apparently the premise of the book reflects the lives and romances of these female characters as well as the heroines in all of Austen’s novels.

When I first heard that there was a book called The Jane Austen Book Club written by Karen Joy Fowler I thought, come on is this going to rip off everything that is holy and sacred about Jane Austen’s work? I did’nt bother getting the book or reading any reviews until I found out that they have made a film adaptation. Having seen the trailer just once it didnt take long to get convinced that I should at least give it a try. The film opened with Paolo Nutini’s ‘New Shoes’ that put me right at ease. The Jane Austen All The Time book club was formed to act as a diversion to help Jocelyn who recently lost her prized dog, it was meant to be just for females only but for some reason they allowed a man to join the club and as the tag of the film says, you don’t have to know the books to be in the club.

All the actresses did a great job in their roles, special mention to Emily Blunt’s effective role as an uptight wife in the middle of a not so happy marriage. The main reason why this film worked for me on such a high level was Hugh Dancy who played the computer whiz cum sci-fi geek Grigg. Dancy, who is a Hugh Jackman-Orlando Bloom hybrid, simply took my breath away. I so loved his character, that of a man who grew up with mostly sisters but turned out to become a normal and healthy person anyway, secure of his masculinity that he will read all Austen’s novels so he can get close to the object of his affection, in this case it’s Bello’s character of Jocelyn. It’s also funny how he meets Jocelyn, he was off to some sci-fi convention and that’s how he gets the invite to join the book club, and in their discussion of Mansfield Park, he likened the characters to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia but in reverse, I thought that was hilarious but very endearing. I’ve just added Dancy in my list of ‘men we love’ and you shall be hearing more about him in this blog. (Water, I need more water!)

This film is an excellent spin on the lives and loves of Jane Austen’s well-loved characters told in the eyes of modern men and women. In the same way that Austen’s characters will experience trouble at first, eventually the characters in her books did get everything they desire, as the film ended with a hopeful future, and they all lived happily ever after.

Can’t wait to have it on DVD!

The Jane Austen Book Club: 4/5