Fringe Review: Sense and Spontaneity
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single, Austenite reviewer in possession of a free Friday night must be in want of a good dose of sumptuous period comedy—and Sense and Spontaneity certainly did not disappoint. As Perth’s Fringe season reaches its dusk, there have been some amazing pieces of theatre bursting its way onto the arts scene, and this totally improvised, Jane Austen inspired two-woman tour de force is no exception.
As I first stepped into the spacious yet intimate thrust-staged Circus Theatre which was to house the performance, I had no idea what to expect. Being an avid Austen fan myself, and taking heed of the show’s proclamation that ‘no two shows are the same’ (due to their improvised nature), I knew I would be in for an exhilarating (carriage) ride.
Esther Longhurst and Jessica Messenger are the bonnet-clad geniuses behind the show, and from the get-go the atmosphere was established as the actresses interacted with the incoming audience in character. The method of generating an improv prompt is a huge part of what makes Sense and Spontaneity so funny and unique: two friends are selected from the audience, and a central character is sculpted by the traits of one of the friends according to the other.
The glorious Georgian universe Longhurst and Messenger manage to create with a few props and a plethora of hats (used by the two to hop masterfully from one character to another as the plot progresses) is delightful and immersive, and the characters rich and hilarious. Whether the scene be an interaction between two sisters or a handsome, evil yet secretly-good-hearted duke and a moping would-be ribbon selling spinster, humour and a genuine love for the characters overflow. The occasional quick-witted dialogue that plays between character and the audience adds to this even more, with some lucky audience members perhaps even invited on stage to take on a role.
For a fast paced show guaranteed to have you holding onto your bonnets, pray watch Sense and Spontaneity, playing until the 25th of February in Perth before moving on to the Adelaide Fringe Festival. You will regret it about as much as binge-watching all 8 hours of the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in a single night (Read: Not at all).