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Catherine: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey in Today's L.A.

ensemble theatre · ray burley productions · Ages 12+ · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by S. CLAUS

June 08, 2015 certified reviewer

My overall impression

With a comfortable running time near that of a Netflix episode, “Catherine” is a delightfully brisk and perky update/condensation of Austen’s famous novel. The show plays something like the film “Clueless” without the slapstick and dumb-blonde sensibility—"Catherine"’s author obviously knows that one of the keys to Austen is the strength of the female characters despite their Victorian trappings. It’s fun to see old-fashioned romance storytelling, with all the “will they or won’t they?” misunderstandings, in a modern setting and this piece makes a good argument that such stories can still work. The updates to the tale, far from being intrusive, are fun and clever. Too say too much about these updates would be to rob a potential viewer of the fun experience of seeing the show, which makes good use of the tiny Asylum space (this reviewer’s imagination was stimulated enough that I remember the experience as having been a fully realized production). I also don’t think knowledge of Austen is required, but probably helps. The directing, and the acting, from an attractive and energetic cast, including Allison Powell who could spit out paragraphs of delicious dialog with the diction of a master and her teddy-bear-like love interest, (not to mention another actor who looks suspiciously like Neil Patrick Harris) was superb.

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