revew: Jeff James/James Yeatman – Persuasion
by Jane Austen/
aptd Jeff James w/ James Yeatman/
dir Jeff James/
Royal Exchange Theatre/
HEY EVERYONE WOULDNT IT BE FUNNY AND ALIEN IF THERE WAS A WHOLE CLASS OF PEOPLE WHO NEVER WORKED AND WHOSE ONLY CONCERN WAS WHETHER IT WAS OK TO SHAG THEIR COUSINS SO THEY COULD KEEP THEIR DADDYS MONEY
Persuasion follows the tale of An Elyitt, a posh woman who’s really sad that she didn’t marry a Dude because he didn’t have enough money. The Dude returns and, oh no! he’s actually rich now, so she should have married him in the first place! Fuck, sucks to be you, An! But then the Dude, rather than going straight back to An, which would be the obvious thing to do, just pisses about with one of her mates instead because he’s all aloof and serious and manly, despite it being obvious from the off that Dude and An are both still ‘in love’ with each other.
Then An’s Mate jumps off a cliff and lands on her head and then ends up falling for Dudesfriend, who looks after her when she’s unwell – not sure why Dude buggered off but there you go. Then An’s Cousin, who’s up until now been making eyes for An’s Sister decides that, no, he wants to shag An now. Pervert. This is an important plot point because one of the Elyitt sisters has to marry their Cousin, otherwise all their Father’s money will go to him and leave their estate. Gross.
THEN Dude comes back from wherever he’s been (who knows where Dude goes when he’s feeling aloof, Sardinia?) and stands and sort of intensely looks at An for a bit like a Big Romantic Dude would do I guess. And then he asks her to dance but she’s just been groped by Cousin so isn’t really in the mood for a dab. But then the next day he gets a kid to give her a letter saying that he Really Really Likes Her Bigtime (and he’s written it down so it must be true). And then they have a snog and I think that’s the end (there’s also a bit of dialogue talking about how their getting married isnt actually cliché because theyre self aware).
^^^lol my adaptation of Persuasion^^^
For a play prominently featuring cousin-shagging, Persuasion is very stylish. The set’s cool, the lighting’s alright but I’d’ve liked it if it was a bit more obnoxious. I liked the costumes. The best costume by far tho was Lady Dalrymple’s, played by Dorian Simpson, in a fuck-off glittery catsuit and heels, which was gorj AND THEN HE WAS GONE – like what a waste of a beautiful man in a catsuit to have him just be onstage in it for like 6 seconds and not have any lines. NO! MORE OF THAT! I’m generally confused by this production’s use of non-hetero relationships & culture as window dressing. There’s a bit that goes nowhere where a couple of women kiss, there’s this dude in his catsuit and there’s a bit of lipsyncing. And in the context of the production it’s just meaningless when everything else is about white heterosexual wealthy reproductive power. It takes more than a snog to queer a production, especially when it’s of the nonsense plot of Persuasion.
The cast may not be universally posh and white but that counts for little when all of the characters are. I just can’t bring myself to care about anyone in Persuasion, they’re all posh wankers and this isn’t even set in a country where the bourgeoisie are about to be murdered so their descendants would still be among us, probably living in the same big ol’ house. Bit harsh. But these aren’t real people so I can despise them all I like because they don’t exist in any reality beyond these stunted sociopathic horndogs.
I think An is supposed to be the most relatable character. She seems to be the main character but I can’t relate to any of her experience. The play starts with the Elyitt family stressing out over the thought that they’ll have to own two horses instead however many they already own and won’t be able to run a carriage anymore, and they’ll have to rent out their manor to an Admiral. Really sad stuff, guys. Then there’s all the Cousin-courting/Dude returns stuff. There’s a load of foam that drops from the ceiling at a couple of points and that’s fun but as for the characters I think they’re all reprehensible poshos with no real understanding of human interaction. But maybe the world was just like that back then for poshos as opposed to now when they just leave their kids in pubs cos theyre too busy being PM. We’ve come a long way.
And the music was all music I like but I have no idea what it’s purpose was other than lol! imagine if Jane Austen listened to Azealia Banks! Wouldn’t that be something! I’mma ruin you cunt! So much of the show was in service to the idea that Isn’t it funny that people used to talk like this? but real people never talked like that – just the posh nobs who novels were written by and for, right? A lot of the dialogue that the characters clearly care about intensely was sent up for laughs from the audience as if there aren’t people that still live their lives like that. I’ve no idea what the production is trying to achieve. In an alternate reality where there’s been some sort of worker’s revolt I can imagine it being a particularly cruel taunting of the old order whose heads are all on pikes now. As it stands, that society is signposted as inane at the same time as being celebrated and sexed up and I don’t see a reason. What it mostly seems to have achieved is make me sound really bloodthirsty.
If you’re one of those lots of people that actually like Jane Austen and distressed poshos falling in love you’ll probably have a great time tho idunno.