Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★
Penny Ashton has travelled all the way to Edinburgh from New Zealand and is clearly made more than welcome. This solo romp is delightfully packed with practically every character from Pride and Prejudice – all individually and consistently delivered by Ashton, with her tongue firmly in her cheek. The names have, however, been changed, perhaps to protect the fictitious!
The central character, Elspeth, is introduced as a published author, although using a pen-name that is masculine, of course. Austen herself was originally published as ‘by a Lady’ as it was not deemed respectable. Elspeth is probably a blend of Austen and Elizabeth Bennet. By twists and turns, Ashton ‘becomes’ Digby (Darcy), Mrs Sloetree (Mrs Bennet), Cousin Howard (Mr Collins) and a wonderfully dappy Mr Wexford (Mr Bingley).
In the spirit of the Carry On genre, the double entendres are fighting for space: Elspeth is urged to practice “Superlative fingering… …on the pianoforte!” The first number is a patter song depicting the rules of etiquette, cleverly fitting with a Strauss piece. The classical music tracks (arranged by Robbie Ellis) convey the elegance of the period; it is a pity that no original music was composed to accompany the witty quickfire lyrics.
The innuendo crescendo continues to build – the family home is known as Quigley Manor and is irresistible for phrases such as: “Every time I come to Quigley” or “Thank you for coming to Quigley.” The audience is in fits of giggles throughout. A very entertaining piece performed with amazing vocal dexterity.