Have you ever had the desire to read the novels of Jane Austen, but simply did not have the time to do so? If so, Austen For The Attention-Impaired, directed by Tali Brady and playing at the Tarragon Theatre’s Extra Space, may just be the show for you. It compresses all of her novels into a single hour.
As an English major, I had to endure a bit of Austen’s work, and I must say I found it a bit dry (unless, of course, it had zombies in it – a recent association that is not overlooked in the play). Austen’s works are certainly made more entertaining here, infusing Pride and Prejudice and Emma with pop references from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Star Wars, Shaun of the Dead and Seinfeld.
All of the characters in Austen’s novels are played by two people, Fred (Pat Di Iorio) and Anne (Tali Brady), with the occasional interjection from their stage manager (Emilia Alvarez). The differentiation between the various characters is distinct and delightfully silly, particularly on Di Iorio’s part.
There are a few musical numbers in the show, but I found these slowed the pace slightly – they seemed to lack the energy of the rest of the production. I found the show a tad weak at the beginning, but stronger and hilarious by the end. The personal issues of Fred and Anne take over by this point, and this is the best part of the show.
I also found the transitions between the various novels a bit lacking – they would just suddenly jump into the next book as soon as they were done the previous. I think this was a missed opportunity for banter between Anne and Fred.
It was a decent show overall. If you go, be prepared for a silly, English-accented song-filled romp through the various novels of Jane Austen rather than a stiff, true-to-the-original account of the classic works.
– Austen For The Attention-Impaired is playing at Tarragon Theatre Extra Space (30 Bridgman Avenue) until July 17, 2011.
– Show dates are July 13 at 5:45pm, July 14 at 3:30pm, July 15 at 1:45pm, July 16 at 7pm July 17 at 7:30pm.
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
Photo of Pat Di Iorio and Tali Brady by Chris J. Hing.