Nine char­ac­ters in one-wo­man show

Manawatu Guardian - - HOME & GARDEN - By MERANIA KARAURIA

Penny Ash­ton plays the nine char­ac­ters in her one-wo­man show Prom­ise and Promis­cu­ity which opens at Cen­tre­point The­atre on Septem­ber 12.

Ash­ton hopes those who dis­missed au­thor Jane Austen’s works (com­pul­sory read­ing at school) as dry will dis­cover the ge­nius of the wo­man who in­spired her to write Prom­ise and Promis­cu­ity.

“She is ac­tu­ally hi­lar­i­ous,” says the come­di­enne.

Af­ter do­ing a va­ri­ety of Jane Austen shows for nu­mer­ous years her un­cle “de­light­fully brought my at­ten­tion to my fa­mous fifth great-un­cle Thomas Lan­glois Le­froy”.

Le­froy was ru­moured to be Austen’s flir­ta­tion.

Ash­ton found Jane Austen’s grave in Winchester and said the sim­ple epi­taph “the mer­its of her sharp mind” left her feel­ing sad.

Her new mu­si­cal stage show tack­les all of Austen’s char­ac­ters with song, dance, and by her own ad­mis­sion, ap­palling cross-stitch­ing.

“I tried to pull out her best di­a­logue. “There are 33 quotes and the peo­ple who are purists will like them,” she says.

She hears their mur­mur­ings when they recog­nise Austen’s quotes.

To pre­pare for her shows, she work­shopped with the di­rec­tor to hone the script for two or three months, learned it, held re­hearsals, and then worked with Chicago-based com­poser Rob­bie El­lis on the Beethoven mu­si­cal score.

Ash­ton has been self-em­ployed for 20 years and from May 2017 to June this year she per­formed 130 shows in 55 towns across five coun­tries.

“It’s awe­some to turn your job into travel.”

Poet, so­cial com­men­ta­tor, jour­nal­ist, wed­ding cel­e­brant and voice-over work are in Ash­ton’s reper­toire.

She lists the

Big Bang The­ory), Ca­role Bur­nett, in An­nie, her dance teach­ers, Emma Thomp­son’s take on Austen, Mi­randa Richard­son as Quee­nie in Black­ad­der and Shirley McClaine. ■ Prom­ise and Promis­cu­ity, Cen­tre­point The­atre, 280 Church St, Septem­ber 12-23, Tues­day and Wed­nes­day 6.30pm, Thurs­daySatur­day 7.30pm; Sun­day 4pm, book­ings: cen­tre­point.co.nz/shows/prom­ise-and­promis­cu­ity 06 354-5740

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