An Afternoon with Jane Austen, Richmond Theatre, London

The London group of Hull Alumni enjoyed a splendid afternoon at Richmond Theatre (May 13th) with selections from Jane Austen’s work, brilliantly delivered by Hull alumnus and actor Adrian Lukis (Drama 1982) and his friends Caroline Langrishe, Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay.

The production comprises duologues from Austen’s works, commentary on the times she lived in and music from the period. Lukis has a wonderful comic touch, and the show – which he researched, compiled and wrote himself – is a showcase not only of Austen’s wit and wisdom but of the range of Lukis’s own talent. He was expertly supported by the ensemble performing skills of fellow film, TV and theatre actor, Langrishe, and musicians Lomas (soprano) and Pay (on harp).

Among the carefully chosen encounters, we heard Mr and Mrs Bennett discussing a new arrival in the neighbourhood from Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Elton holding court in Emma, Captain Wentworth’s declaration of love in Persuasion and John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey boasting about the size of his gig! There was also the delicious juxtaposition, also from Pride and Prejudice, of Mr Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth and Mr Collins’s proposal to her.

Rosie Lomas is a talented young soprano who trained at the Guildhall School of Music and has appeared at the ENO. She also runs Literary Music, a group of actors and musicians who perform literary-themed concerts throughout the UK, so her choices suited the Austen-themed performance perfectly. From the author’s own collection of favourite music Lomas found An Irishman, which she sang to the accompaniment of the accomplished harpist Camilla Pay. Together they also performed Haydn, Mozart and Handel, selections which Austen herself would have known.

When we “retired” to the pub round the corner on Richmond Green, Lukis joined us for a few minutes to tell us how he’d devised the show and hear what we thought of it.

To those who missed it: if you get a chance to see it – he tours from time to time, constantly updating and revising it – you’d be in for a treat, in my view!

Jane Bennett-Powell Events co-ordinator, London Alumni group

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