Theatre review: Austen classic captivates in marvellous play

Some of the cast from Mansfield Park being performed at the Theatre Royal. Pictured are Samuel Collings and Kristin Atherton
Some of the cast from Mansfield Park being performed at the Theatre Royal. Pictured are Samuel Collings and Kristin Atherton
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Mansfield Park, Theatre Royal, September 18

While initially hesitant about how well a lengthy Jane Austen novel would translate to the stage, I soon found myself at ease in the audience.

Ffion Jolly in Mansfield Park being performed at the Theatre Royal

Ffion Jolly in Mansfield Park being performed at the Theatre Royal

Tim Luscombe’s marvellous adaptation captured the story’s drama without omitting the author’s wit or quirky character details.

The cast of eight delivered faultless and convincing character portrayals, with Ffion Jolly giving a stand-out performance as the play’s heroine, Fanny Price, and Geoff Arnold particularly memorable in his role as Mr Rushworth.

Using a single actor to play up to three characters was not distracting and left no doubt as to the talents of the cast.

The increasing pace of the play and quick delivery of actors’ lines commanded the full attention of audience members who, myself included, could not refrain from laughing-out-loud on cue.

The use of one simplistic set, for all of the story’s changing locations, worked surprising well, with only subtle props, occasional sound effects and costume changes to assist the cast.

The play’s success was a testament to the hard work of all involved in it, a fantastic and captivating presentation of a classic Austen tale.

Theatre-goers also had the opportunity to buy a programme which contained the play in full and made a great memento to take away.

This is a must-see for any Austen fan and, with a Theatrebus service being run for all evening performances until Tuesday, getting to the theatre could not be easier.

The full timetable is available on the Mansfield Park page of 
www.theatreroyal.org

Mansfield Park, in partnership with its sponsor, ourburystedmunds, will be touring nationally until the end of November and, if Tuesday’s performance is anything to go by, this is one play Bury St Edmunds can be proud of.

Laura Smith