Thistledown Theatre

we believe that theatre is for everyone





Reviewed 2nd August, 2016 by Renee Robson

...This lively adaptation of Emma is the first official show for the quirky Oxford based Thistledown Theatre, and the drama is wonderfully enhanced by the Gothic setting of St Mary the Virgin Church. Any worries about the acoustics were easily overcome by the clear diction of the majority of the actors, especially the female voices.

The bare stage of a raised platform and three chairs looked unpromising but it was amazing how inventively the many scene changes were adapted to it. Also notable was the clever use of actors promenading around the church pillars and the enactment of dancing at a ball, particularly well-executed in such a small space, all further enhanced by the music and wonderful costumes.

The use of audience asides to convey Emma’s inner thoughts was a directorial masterpiece (Laurence Goodwin) and carried out with wit, charm and droll facial expressions by the excellent Sarah Pyper. The heroine was ably supported by the entire cast and a special mention goes to her father, the neurotic and gloomy Mr Woodhouse, convincingly played by David Guthrie.

Sir Walter Scott said in his contemporary review of Emma that Jane Austen has a “talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life.”  His long and generally favourable review certainly helped Austen to become well known. He went on to say, in what was meant to be a compliment for a romantic novel,“ We read Emma with pleasure, if not with deep interest.”

And what could be more pleasurable than spending an evening in a beautiful church and seeing Jane Austen's Emma performed by such a spirited cast.  If you remember, bring a cushion, the seats were made for worshippers!


Daily Info

Reviewed 2nd August, 2016 by Andrew Bell

...The play was greatly enhanced by authentic period costumes and slick lighting design. In the end, this production stand or falls on its Emma, a long and taxing role since the character here is not only protagonist but also narrator. Sarah Pyper got the tricky balance just right between Emma's youthful gaiety and patronising do-goodery. Her failure to grasp the nature of her own heart and her wrong-headed matchmaking are entirely convincing. She quietly dominates the stage both vocally and with fluent movement.

The show continues until 13th August. Recommended as civilised, thoughtful entertainment; a strong start from Thistledown Theatre.