03:39PM, Thursday 24 May 2018
Photo: Robin Savage
From the pain of long-lost love to a perilous fall, Persuasion is full of emotion and drama. Then there are the locations – Kellynch Hall, the Cobb at Lyme Regis and society scenes in Bath.
With such a scope, the story cannot have been easy to adapt, but Stephanie Dale’s dramatisation, and clever staging by Kate McGregor, brings Jane Austen’s last novel to captivating life.
Theatre6 – whose wartime drama Gabriel starring Paul McGann enthralled Windsor audiences last year – have assembled a talented young cast, though no big names, for this faithful re-telling.
At 19, Anne Elliot was in love with impecunious naval officer Frederick Wentworth but her status-obsessed family prevented the match. Seven years later they meet again, but everything has changed, except for Anne’s thoughtless relatives.
The actor/musicians play piano, violin, flute, and clarinet and take on multiple roles to tell the tale with humour and grace.
Jason Ryall is both dashing Captain Wentworth and then camps it up as the chamelon-like Mr Elliot.
Lucinda Turner has plenty to get her teeth into as simpering Mrs Clay, Anne’s hilariously self-obsessed sister Mary and the well-meaning Lady Russell.
Indigo Griffiths, Matthew Atkins and Siobhán Gerrard provide strong support in their various roles but it is Ceri-Lyn Cissone as Anne who compels the eye, always persuading the audience to sympathy with her expressive face so we see her public and private reactions.
The cast make full use of the rather lovely set, instruments are hung on the pillars, a curved ramp becomes The Cobb and parasols become carriage wheels and the sea.
Perhaps the dialogue could have trimmed to streamline the production but it’s a lovely experience to get lost in Austen with Theatre6.
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