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Production synopsis Based on Jane Austen’s incomplete early novel ‘The Watsons’, Laura Wade dips beneath the surface to imagine what might have happened. The result is clever, playful and very funny. Characters boldly go in search of their own endings which delight, occasionally horrify but constantly entertain. As the play opens we meet a myriad of familiar Austen characters. Young women in search of a husband, flirtatious suitors, stuffy aristocrats, serious clergymen, dazzling army officers, formidable ladies of the manor, as well a precocious child. All familiar territory – but what happens when the writer loses the plot allowing the characters to introduce plans of their own, unrestricted by the conventional rules of fiction and the demands of Regency England. The dialogue sparkles, the costumes delight and as the plot unravels unexpected twists and turns keep us guessing what the final outcome ‘might or might not be’.
A large cast is required – 18 actors (9 women, 9 men – one a boy of about 10). The play starts out as a typical Austen novel with all the well known characters but as the writer (Laura) enters the story and the plot begins to unravel the characters become free to develop their own destinies which are very funny, satirical and surprising. Scenes of enforced gentility segue into an anarchic battle ground of ideas.
Highly acclaimed at Chichester (2018) and The Menier Chocolate Factory (2019) – this could well be an amateur premiere at GWT. There are many scenes when the entire cast is on stage so strong ensemble work is vital. The play needs enormous pace and energy and an ability to deliver complex ideas with understanding and speed. So great diction will be essential. There will be some dancing, possibly live music. The Regency scenes need to be portrayed with honesty and a real sense of period. As the plot begins to break down and characters reinvent themselves so will actors have a greater freedom to explore acting styles and intentions. It will be hard work but a great deal of fun.
Some of the smaller roles could be doubled. Character ages are ‘Playing Ages’ and could be flexible.
Mr Watson – Playing age "old"! VERY SMALL ROLE (No lines) Lies in big bed, poorly. He might groan a bit. Could double once he’s deceased!!
Mr Edwards – Playing age 50s to 60s. (SMALL ROLE) In ball scene and briefly in second half – non speaking. Could double.