Adapted by Tim Luscomber
Directed by Joannie Schultz
Produced by Remy Bumppo think theatre
At The Greenhouse Theater, Chicago
Sweet romantic Gothic fantasy introduces a new young talent to Chicago
19th Century author Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818) is a knowing nod and homage to the romantic Gothic fantasy genre. Austen’s novels have been extremely popular for decades earning her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. There have been many films and stage adaptations of her novels. Northanger Abbey, adapted by Tim Luscombe, has its U.S. Premiere by Remy Bumppo think theatre now running at The Greenhouse Theater Center. Directed swiftly by Joannie Schultz, Northanger Abbey is a witty, charming and amusing comedy of manners adaptation. It is the first major role for Sarah Price as the precocious 17-year old voracious reader with a vivid imagination. Her performance as Catherine Morland anchors a cast of terrific actors.
The story revolves around the coming of age and the imagination of Catherine as tyical teenager living in rural, England in the early 1800’s. Her first real adventure happens on a holiday to Bath. Catherine fantasized about the evil luring at Northanger Abbey as she is taken there after meeting and falling for Henry Tilney (Greg Matthew Anderson). His father General Tilney (John Lister) is the sinister don of the Abbey. He is bent on having his children Eleanor (Meg Warner) and Henry marring into wealthy gentry families.
Catherine mixes her Gothic fantasies and the sinister realities of the General’s ambitions for his children into a stressful adventure. The social customs, mores, and etiquette of the English gentry dominate the story. We quickly learn to love Catherine and we cheer for her to connect successfully with Henry, her honorable soul mate
Utilizing a mirror-laden set (by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod) and the lavish period-perfect costumes (designed by Rachel Lambert), the Remy Bumppo production of Northanger Abbey is an engaging comedy of manners. This show looks gorgeous, is well-spoken, and effectively performed. Besides the terrific work from Sarah Price and Greg Matthew Anderson, Annabel Armour is funny as Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Morland. John Lister and Darci Nalepa added nice supporting performances.
Remy Bumppo is adept a mounting period pieces like Jane Austen’s works. Her fans will enjoy the faithful staging of the time and world of the English gentry when finding someone to dance with and marrying into the ‘right’ family was the zenith of life. This is a entertaining production.
At The Greenhouse theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL,www.remybumppo.org, tickets $37.50, $47.50, $53.50, Wednesdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, select matinees Thursday, Oct. 24 & Saturday Nov, 2 at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through November 10, 2013