Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison
On Tuesday evening my friend and I visited The Playhouse theatre in Liverpool to watch Jane Austen’s Persuasion. We are both fans of Jane Austen’s novels with Persuasion being both of our favourite piece of her work, with this in mind we were very excited to see this adaptation.
Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliott, an unmarried lady who is no longer in the first flush of youth. We learn that in her younger years she had been in love with a young man called Wentworth however due to his lack of fortune or social standing she had been persuaded by her family and friend Lady Russell to turn down Wentworth’s proposal. Wentworth and Anne meet again years later and the we watch the story of their relationship unfold.
The play had a small cast of just six actors performing the whole story. Ceri-Lyn Cissone was wonderful as Anne Elliot, her portrayal of the main character was full of emotion and intensity which really drew the audience into the character. All the other actors played more than one character and did so wonderfully none more so than Lucinda Turner. Lucinda played the characters of Mary, Mrs Clay and Lady Russell, these three characters are all very different however she was able to capture the essence of each one perfectly and move seamlessly from one to the next.
In addition to the whole cast being superb actors they also are accomplished musicians. Jason Ryall who played Wentworth and Mr Elliot also performed on the piano as did Indigo Griffiths who played Elizabeth, Louisa and Meg. Siobhan Gerrard who played a multitude of characters played the flute as well as the piano and on the violin we had Matthew Atkins who played Sir Walter, Admiral Croft, Mr Hayter and Benwick. Despite the actors all playing multiple roles it was very easy to distinguish between the characters due to the costume changes for each one.
As with all adaptations, certain parts of the book were edited in length or their entirety however I still enjoyed this play and felt it kept to the original text fairly well. As an Austen fan I really enjoyed this performance but I think audiences would also enjoy it even if they had never picked the book up before. This is testament to the wonderful story telling of Jane Austen in addition to the magnificent acting from the entire cast. Persuasion is a timeless story of love, relationships and social etiquette and this adaptation tells the story brilliantly.
Tickets cost from £10 to £30 (booking fees may apply).
Jane Austen’s Persuasion is at the Liverpool Playhouse from 9-13 October 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.everymanplayhouse.com or call the box office on 0151 709 4776