Northanger Abbey


On Saturday we popped up to Keswick for a production of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, at the Theatre by the Lake. It's such a lovely venue, in a stunning setting, and before the performance we enjoyed a delicious meal in the Lakeside Café Restaurant.

We settled down for the play and were somewhat surprised at this adaptation. We hadn't really done our research before arriving at the theatre, so didn't know that this was a "re-imagining"! The novel has been adapted by Zoe Cooper for the Orange Tree Theatre, and is on tour to Keswick, Bolton and Scarborough. 

Zoe Cooper takes Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey for its starting point, but that's almost as far as the similarity goes. There are only three actors, playing all the parts, so many characters are cut out altogether. Catherine Morland's obsession with the Gothic novel remains the same and, as in the novel, it is this obsession which leads her into all kinds of scrapes and adventures. There's a huge amount of energy in the play and lots of humour and these make the play very watchable.

I'm still not sure what I think about the re-imagining. I enjoyed the play, but it wasn't Northanger Abbey, that's for sure. I feel that satirising a satire doesn't work very well. The novel is so wonderful, that any re-imagining has to be disappointing, in the end. In the end, I concluded that I would have enjoyed the play more if I didn't know the book so well.

But, as always, the Theatre by the Lake is a delight.