Runs until Saturday


SHARPLY drawn characters, snappy dialogue and waves of laughter: can this really be Jane Austen?
This new adaptation of Mansfield Park by Tim Luscombe, has all this and more.
For starters, there is some very fine acting. Ffion Jolly is delightful as the heroine Fanny Price, seemingly condemned by lowly social standing to a role as a ‘companion’, or unpaid slave, to a family whose fortune is founded on the proceeds of slave labour in the Jamaican sugar plantations.
Her restraint, as she watches the vulgarity of the ‘better bred’ gentlefolk around her, is so admirable but irritating you feel like cheering when she finally speaks her mind – with eyes suitably cast down, of course.
Pete Ashmore as her beau Edmund is also excellent; Kristin Atherton brings a viper’s tongue to Mary Crawford and Geoff Arnold, who tackles three roles, does brilliantly to create the very different characters.
We particularly liked Richard Heap, as the pompous and baffled father Sir Thomas Bertram.
Staged with delicate charm and taste in a delightful design by Kit Surrey, this Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds production really shows how well Austen can suit the stage: like Dickens, the wealth of detail in her writing helps a modern audience to understand the thoughts and feelings of the day.
Modern teenagers who feel as ‘condemned’ as Fanny to study an Austen novel for GCSE should rush to see this, it will completely change their minds.