Mansfield Park's 18th-century manners Upstairs at The Gatehouse

  • Opera & Dance
 
Mansfield Park's 18th-century manners Upstairs at The Gatehouse

Published:

Thu, 25/04/2013 - 10:16

By:

Amir
Domestic intrigue played out in an early 19th-century drawing room
Domestic intrigue played out in an early 19th-century drawing room
Published: 
25 April, 2013
by SARAH DAWES

IT is delightful to see the upstairs room of a pub transformed into an early 19th-century drawing room, where the problems of the Napoleonic Wars and the evils of slavery are put aside in favour of domestic intrigue and flirtatious encounters. 

Jonathan Dove’s Hampstead Garden Opera production currently Upstairs at The Gatehouse of Jane Austen’s elegant novel Mansfield Park – adapted by Alasdair Middleton – emphasises these aspects with enchanting music. 

Each “chapter” begins with the entire cast explaining the story in harmony.

There is the serious business of the need for young ladies to find suitable husbands who can keep them in the manner to which they are accustomed, as well as the more pressing problem of how those young people might entertain themselves when they get bored with mundane occupations such as sewing, making music and walking in the grounds of their parents’ estate. 

The proximity of the performers means that the audience can appreciate their expressions and gestures, and the sibling rivalry between the two sisters Maria (Teresa Pells) and Julia (Emily Phillips) as well as their unkind treatment of their poor cousin, Fanny (Sarah Denbee) is wonderfully portrayed.

Mrs Norris, their aunt, played by Alison Thorman, is a totally believable spiteful  busybody and William Davies, as the wealthy buffoon Mr Rushworth, is as lovable as he is comical. 

This production features two separate casts, and if the second is as good as the first, they will be well worth seeing!

Hampstead Garden Opera’s Mansfield Park is Upstairs at The Gatehouse, Highgate Village, N6 4BD, April 25, 26, 27 at 7.30pm, matinées April 27 at 3.30pm and April 28 at 4pm, £20 / £18 conc, 020 8340 3488, www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com

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