This naughty romp from Bath’s own Natural Theatre Company kicks off outside the Assembly Rooms, where the bewhiskered and bombastic baronet Mr Pulteney introduces us to the idea of this promenade around historic Bath – which stands out not because it’s done by people in Georgian costume (This being the period of the Jane Austen festival, the place is swarming with other people dressed similarly.), but that it doesn’t take Ms Austen terribly seriously. To say the least. The irascible Pulteney explains that this is an exploration of Undone, a lost Jane Austen novel, and a sort of prequel to her other better known works; and begins an introduction to some of its characters. There is here, unlike in actual Jane Austen, much delight in satisfyingly smutty double entendres (One character, for instance, is called Fanny; draw your own conclusions.). We are led by different characters around various bits of our Georgian town, encountering the other characters on the way. There is much bitching, scheming and at times outright violence between the mostly female protagonists – in particular a hard-fought parasol duel between the Park sisters, Alice and Henrietta – all in pursuit of the elusive but eminently eligible bachelor Mr Bennett Bennett, (Wonderful calves!). Meanwhile the hapless clergyman Reverend Pious is misled and confused in his amours by much epistolary skulduggery (Forged letters, keep up.), and the saucy jokes come thick and fast. As an exploration of the work of Jane Austen, this irreverent travesty is unlikely to get you through your Eng. Lit. GCSE; but it is tremendous fun.
John Christopher Wood