Chichester Festival Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory
A new play by Laura Wade
Adapted from the unfinished novel
by Jane Austen
Director: Samuel West
Menier Chocolate Factory
20 September – 16 November 2019
THE WATSONS starts off as a delightful dose of Austen. A young beautiful daughter, Emma (Grace Molony) returns home to her dying father after having been brought up by her rich aunt for 14 years. The expectation was that her aunt would settle a handsome sum upon her niece, thus making it easier for Emma to bag an eligible husband but alas, the Aunt remarried and sent Emma home penniless.
At her first ball since coming home Emma manages to catch the eye of not only the pleasant parson, Mr Howard (Tim Delap) but also the handsome cad, Tom Musgrave (Laurence Ubong Williams) and his shy awkward friend, Lord Osborne (Joe Bannister). Lord Osborne goes on to propose with alacrity but will spirited Emma accept? And if she doesn’t, what will become of her in an age where a good marriage was a woman’s only chance of gaining independence from her family and avoiding the poverty trap of spinsterhood.
So far, so Austen. Then THE WATSONS does a complete volte-face when the playwright, Laura Wade not Jane Austen, writes herself into the play with thought provoking and often hilarious results. At this point THE WATSONS becomes a different beast, concerned with vastly different themes, such as the angst that accompanies writing, the nature of self-determination and the difficulty of managing actors’ egos.
THE WATSONS boasts a large cast and minimalist white scenery and props as the characters flail around in the playwright’s imagination, fighting for domination and refusing to neatly fit in with a well-defined plot.
THE WATSONS is highly original and entertaining. A must see!