Jane Austen Inspired Romcom Nails it at the Tabard

Little Persuasion should be needed to see it writes Susan Stanley-Carroll

Dom Thomson as Captain Wentworth with Sophie Todd as Louisa Musgrove

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September 16, 2023

Performed by a vibrant group of accomplished young actors and on at the Theatre at the Tabard this autumn, Persuasion is a true romcom of thwarted love delivered with pace, wit and oodles of imagination.

The plot tracks seven years in the life of Anne Elliot; at first a sweet nineteen year old persuaded by a friend to call off her engagement to the penniless Frederick Wentworth. Seven years later we encounter again the two characters through an unexpected meeting of an unhappy but still sweet Miss Elliot, a spinster, and the miserable Captain Wentworth, who is no longer penniless.

Susie Garvey-Williams plays Anne Elliot to perfection. She is the epitome of a Jane Austen heroine and Susie gives an exquisitely nuanced performance. She projects Anne’s changing emotions; not only through dialogue and tone but through strong transparent body language.

In the novel there are many characters, some of these have been discarded and the others deftly played by the cast: Holly Baines gives a remarkable chameleon like performance as she flutters from self centred Lady Musgrove, to Nurse Rooke, Lady Russell, Mary Musgrove, Mrs. Croft and also the moustached William Elliot.

Sophie Todd is exceptionally versatile as she zips in an out of a range of costumes and hairstyles as Janet Smith, Elizabeth Elliot, and Louisa Musgrove.

Dashing Dom Thomson remains steadfast as Austen’s gallant hero Captain Wentworth . He maybe based on Jane Austen’s brother Charles, a Royal Navy Officer. Dom is charismatic actor whose beguiling demeanour pulls in the audience from his first entrance. He and Anne Elliot parry perfectly together portraying a gamut of emotions. Watch out for that concluding kiss!

Watch out for that concluding kiss!
Watch out for that concluding kiss!

The role of Sir Walter Elliot, Charles Musgrove, Admiral Croft and Captain Benwick are played with great gusto by Matthew Burcombe plus his array of very fetching curly or straight haired wigs. Matthew’s an actor who can contort and conjure up facial expression to express a bevy of roles. His lively personality welds together the crew and yet leaves Anne Elliot the undoubted pivotal force on stage.

Pete Gallagher’s brilliantly imaginative direction bounces with a range of astonishingly innovative ideas that made the whole show an utter joy to watch for example the horse and trap and the sailing ship. As well moments when characters, remaining in role, give stage instructions to others.

Susie Garvey-Williams plays Anne ElliotSusie Garvey-Williams plays Anne Elliot

The stage adaptation of the novel by Dawn Bush is exemplary - hopefully it will be published for other companies to perform. Will Dawn now turn her attention to adapting other novels for the stage?

The music costumes and set engage and support both the character, and the action. Even Jane Austen’s ‘eighteenth century delicate ladies’! swiftly shifted a sofa from one place to another without resorting to the vapours and laudanum.

A sparkling diamond of a production. You’d never think it has been on tour since 2 July visiting approximately 31 different theatres - it is still ‘as fresh as a daisy’.

Susie Garvey-Williams plays Anne Elliot and Sophie Todd as Louisa Musgrove

A show not to be missed by those who enjoy an amusing and stylish Austen inspired plot. Please note that it will close on Saturday 7 October.

Susan Stanley-Carroll

Tickets: Performances 14 to 30 September £23.50/£19.50 concessions; Final week £25.50/£21.50 concessions.

The production lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes and has a 20 minute interval.

You can book all productions online on the Tabard Theatre web site or call the box office on 020 8995 6035 (leave a message if you can’t get through and your call will be returned).

Theatre at the Tabard is at 2 Bath Road, Chiswick (W4 1LW).



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