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Mansfield Park – Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Writer: Jane Austen

Adaptor: Tim Luscombe

Director: Colin Blumenau

Reviewer: Flip Miller



Mansfield Park 2013 tourAdaptations of classic dramas can sometimes miss the mark and get lost in translation. Tim Luscombe’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Manfield Park is the exception to the rule. This adaptation hits the target roundly on the bullseye.

The language and characters are brought to life and even given a modern twist that does not detract from the original. This is a story of polictics, social context and of course love. All very pertinent, not only in the 19th Century when Austen penned this classic work, but also true in today’s society.

Many of the actors play multiple parts. This goes to demonstrate everyone’s versatility. Some of the characters from the book are left out but this does not leave the audience wanting. This modern adaptation empowers the actors to perform the piece in a way that can be appreciated on both the classical and more modern levels. All of the actors bring an energy to the piece that you don’t expect from a period drama.

Laura Doddington’s portrayal of Mary Crawford does give a nod to the classic but also there are shades of TOWIE in her performance and you half expect her to say “Totes Amaze” and some points. Doddington has some particularly tender moments both with her brother Henry played by Eddie Eyre and Edmund Price.

Edmund, played by Pete Ashmore is one of the louder actors. Ashmore’s projection tends to over shadow some of the other actors and give the impression of an angry young man. Ashmore needs to remember that he is a part of a team and temper his level to match the other members of the cast.

Edmund’s father, Sir Thomas Bertram, is played by accomplished actor Richard Heap. His portrayal of this character and Mr Price are in stark contrast. The differences are subtle but they are still different. His voice changes and softens as he plays Fanny’s father. Both parts have comedic properties and his timing in each case is spot on.

The part of the main character Fanny Price is played competently by Ffion Jolly. Fanny Price can be seen as quite an inspid character. Jolly brings the character to life and also gives her a depth that may surprise. There is real emotion in her performance. Jolly has a stage presence that even when she is being as a timid mouse you are drawn to her.

As is usual in an Austen play the ending is blindingly obvious. Jolly and Ashmore play these scenes with great maturity. There is true joy and rapture in both their faces. Even though you know what the out come will be you are kept on the edge of your seat right to the very end.

To an Austen purist Luscombe has not produced a total facsimile of the original. There is a particular scene that isn’t in the book but is Luscombe’s interpretation of what is reported in the book. However, this is a very creditable version of the classic and will keep the purists and those new to Austen’s work entertained for the whole evening.

Runs until 21st September

Photo: Keith Mindham


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