Bath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious

Bath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious

We are taking a little break from the Fashion Week madness to bring you something a little more sophisticated. You see, when I (Jo) am not falling over the cobbles of Somerset House I am usually found in the Library, being a Librarian you see. And so it was that the lovely folk at The Independent Bath Literature Festival picked up on my book smarts and kindly invited me to attend a couple of their events! Refuse? How could I.

Having scanned their extensive (and impressive!) list of events I was immediately drawn to Austentatious, a completely improvised play done in the style of a Jane Austen novel. What frivolity!

Bath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious  Bath Literature Festival 2015: AustentatiousBath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious

The play was held at The Forum in Bath, a building which I actually went to primary school a stones throw away from but had never actually ventured inside before. It’s a beautiful art deco building that was a cinema until 1969 and I loved how charming a space it was.

As we were seated we were asked to think of a name for a new Jane Austen novel and write it on our slip of paper. The cast members then proceeded to wander up and down the aisles for a good 15 minutes before the show collecting in the would be titles. I was impressed with how many audience members had pens about their person!

As the play began all the names were put into a wicker basket before one was plucked at random to perform. Previously performed titles include ‘Breaking Cad: Meth Comes to Pemberley’, ‘Die Hard With A Virtue’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Stone Cold Steve Austen’ so anything goes! As luck would have it, someone in the room had decided to be very topical indeed and had given their book the title ‘Who Cares What Colour “That” Dress Is?” much to the amusement of the cast and the audience!

Bath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious Bath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious Bath Literature Festival 2015: AustentatiousBath Literature Festival 2015: Austentatious

Without even so much as a moment to confer the 5 strong cast (plus their fabulous violinist) went straight into the most fantastic 60 minute play, which did indeed contain many a reference to ‘that dress’ and, for one scene, ‘that bonnet’.  It was outrageously impressive, especially as the cast remained onstage throughout the play. You can tell that they have a fantastic relationship and the way they bounced off each other as they improvised their way through each scene was a joy to watch. The audience was often left in fits of laughter, myself included.

If you’re in the area I would heartily recommend you check out what’s on at the Bath Literature Festival over the next week (full listings here). There’s such a fantastic range of events on offer including talks by David Nicholls, Emma Bridgewater, Kazuo Ishiguro and Mary Portas. As for Austentatious, they are currently on a UK tour and if they are coming anywhere near you I would absolutely suggest you go and see them. I am extremely tempted to get tickets for their Bristol show on March 7th and put ‘Stone Cold Steve Austen Two’ in the basket.


Although I received my ticket for free, this review is my honest opinion. With that in mind, the dress is obviously blue and black.