Monday, May 19, 2008


Cameo Players at Hylands House


As part of Hylands House Jane Austen week, the Cameo Players, who specialise in these period pots-pourris, brought us Dear Jane, her life and work in letters, reminiscences and extracts from works both familiar and obscure.

It was a wonderful evening. The splendid surroundings, the costumes [Jane Hunt], even the weather, combined with a talented cast to make a memorable entertainment.

The script, researched and devised by Lindsay Lloyd, began with Jane's nephew recalling her funeral, and ended with a selection box of bons mots from the canon.

On the way, we met a gallery of characters both fictional and actual. Jane's brother marching his company to winter quarters in Chelmsford, her father and his “large and varied library”, Kipling on Persuasion, the cruel Mrs Craven, Tom Lefroy, her Irish love, her dear sister Cassandra.

There were triumphs and tragedies, courtship and gossip, family theatricals – a priceless piece of juvenilia called The Mystery – dancing, and music: Doublet [Kate Knight and Roy Sach], appropriately and elegantly costumed. And of course her “children”, the novels.

We heard sensitively dramatized scenes from several, including dancing with Darcy and a breathless exchange about the Mysteries of Udolpho.

The Cameo company on this occasion was Robert Bastian, Ken Rolf, Paul Carnell, Lindsay Lloyd, Naomi Phillips and Patricia Lee.

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