Emma – adapted by Tim Luscombe from the novel by Jane Austen
Theatre Royal Bath
Clearly a production of Emma will be a box office hit in Bath, some audience members even attending in costume to celebrate the work of Jane Austen. Its tour created to acknowledge that 2017 marks the bicentenary of her death. Tim Luscombe has adapted the novel as he has done previously with Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Persuasion and now he tackles the classic matchmaker Emma Woodhouse on stage.
The script struggles to translate the unusual personal narrative of the highly complex novel which results in a rather slow paced production with few of the characters keeping the depth and appeal of the original writing. However, the story is true and untouched by this adaptation which diehard fans will no doubt be happy with.
Bethan Nash is a strong central titular heroine, alongside Polly Misch as Harriet Smith who finds a charm in the likeable friend who receives such poor advice from Emma; Phillip Edgerley is also a suitably commanding Mr. Knightley.
The production looks glorious in its full costume and whilst the circular staging limits the direction there will be much for the Austen fans to enjoy.