In this deft, witty and winning take on Jane Austen, New Zealander Penny Ashton plays Elspeth Slowtree, at age two-and-20 already "hurtling toward spinsterhood," with only the powers of her pen to keep her from genteel poverty. In a gloriously crowded one-woman show, Ashton also plays Elspeth’s gadabout sister, nervy mother, snobby neighbour and a gaggle of suitors. Oh, and she’s a dab-hand at the ukulele, too.
Ashton’s sparkling script riffs on the structure, characters and dialogue of the Austen canon, but you don’t need to be a dedicated Janeite to enjoy the romp. Ashton also throws in topical references, cheeky feminist comment and some unexpected musical mash-ups, ranging from Beethoven to Bon Jovi. (Watch for the melodious etiquette lessons of a certain Miss Kardashian, renowned as a model of delicacy and taste.)
In the end, we learn that balancing work and love can be tricky for a young woman, but Elspeth remains confident that this difficulty surely will be solved 200 years hence!
— Alison Gillmor