TIM Luscombe's clever adaptation of this Jane Austen classic is an absolute treat, full of romance, witty dialogue and slick presentation.
The central character, 17 year old Catherine Morland, loves to immerse herself in a thrilling novel, especially if the content is peppered with tales of horror and gothic undertones.
So, taken to Bath by her aunt, she is swept up in the social scene, befriending Isabella Thorpe, her boorish brother, John and the handsome Henry Tilney, along with his sister, Eleanor.
John has designs on Catherine but following a string of tricks and deceptions, she sees through his lies and is thrilled by the invitation of her darling Henry to make a visit to his home, Northanger Abbey.
Once Catherine arrives at the stately pile, her imagination runs wild with melodramatic effect, fuelled by the horror of the Gothic fantasy, The Mysteries of Udolpho.
Eventually, misunderstandings are resolved, and despite misgivings from Henrys grumpy father, General Tilney, our handsome hero Henry, and his pretty Catherine are united in matrimony, and as in all good Romantic novels, 'they all lived happily, ever after'
Parties, soirées, balls, yards of muslin, bonnets, ribbons, deception, unrequited love, this drama has it all, delivered with stylish panache by the talented cast, but throughout, the storyline takes a modern approach full of expressive acting whilst preserving the essence of Austens' writing.
The beautifully designed set (Dawn Allsopp) allows seamless transition between scenes also, the atmospheric lighting (Mark Dymock), delightful choreography and of course, wonderful acting by the ensemble of eight actors, doubling roles with smooth costume changes and characterisation.
Background piano accompaniment (MD Matthew Bugg) and period dance pieces add to this pleasing adaptation.
Eva Feiler as Catherine Morland delivers a super performance. Confident, expressive, humorous. A delight to watch.
Harry Livingstone is Henry Tilney Valancourt. As the romantic lead, he ticks all the boxes.
Excellent performances by, Emma Ballantine as Eleanor Tinley/ Emily St Aubert, Johnathan Hansler, as General Tilney/St Aubert, Joe Parker, as John Thorpe/Count Moreno, Annabelle Terry as Isabella Thorpe/ Dorothy/ Alice, Hilary Tones ad Mrs Allen/ Mrs Morland, Joseph Tweedale as James Morland/ Captain Frederick Tilney/ Bridegroom. Directed by Karen Simpson, it runs 10 15-02-17
Elizabeth M Smith/Rosemary Manjunath
Northanger Abbey is at Derby Theatre 10-12 April