Emma | Review
Emma was Jane Austin’s 4th novel and the last to be published in her lifetime, as with all her books it deals with social standing, moral principles and respectability.
Austin’s heroines are often headstrong and ‘Emma’ is no exception. Emma is young, pretty, of good standing and as a result often indulged by other people. Although she is not interested in marriage herself, she is also inclined to meddle in other people’s affairs particularly where affairs of the heart are concerned.
The play opens with Emma boasting that she has recently been successful in making a match for her companion Miss Taylor and that she now fancies herself as a match maker. Her new protégée, Miss Harriet Smith is the next candidate for her scheming and Emma determines that she should be the one to find her a suitable match.
Adrian Preater’s adapation of the classic novel for Hotbuckle Productions is a clever four-hander that recently played at the Hawth in Crawley as part of their 2016 tour.
Bobbi O’Callaghan plays Emma Woodhouse and is the only actor with a single role. The other three actors in the cast, Jack Farrar, Clare Harlow and Adrian Preater each expertly and cleverly play numerous roles creating all the other colourful characters in Hartfield.
The actors’ skill means the myriad of characters are easily distinguishable from one another and create delightful and humorous viewing. The changes are also indicated by subtle costume changes by attaching a different coloured necktie determines whether we are watching the social climbing vicar, the fun-loving scoundrel or Emma’s dashing friend Mr Knightly, a different coloured shawl differentiates the nauseating Mrs Elton or the gentle Harriet.
Emma is an extraordinarily clever piece of writing, keeping Austin’s rich language and style and yet by using simple props and scene changes creates a lovely window into Georgian England.
Despite being a studio production with limited props, scenery and costumes and relying heavily on the actors to interpret the story, this production is engaging and pleasant to watch. Emma is a fine example of a classic work of literature made accessible and fun for modern audiences and I look forward to following Hotbuckle productions in the future.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
☆☆☆☆ | Highly Recommended.
Emma by Hotbuckle Productions is touring Spring 2016 click for Tour Dates