Whatsonstage Matt Trueman
Jane Austen, meet Frank Ocean. Frank Ocean, Jane Austen. Strange bedfellows? You bet your million-dollar bike. But that's exactly what makes this Persuasion so persuasive: its sheer incongruity. By forcing a faithful script – all prim formalities and literary bon mots – through an ultra-contemporary staging, director Jeff James and his co-writer James Yeatman set up the most jarring of anachronisms and so reveal both past and present anew. Talk about popping the bonnet...
The effect of this disconnect is a kind of double-vision. It splits everything in two. Not only does Austen suddenly seem our contemporary, we start to seem like hers. Her characters are like people again – not just literary tropes and lace fans. Austen was writing about human hearts and real emotions, and James restores that by taking them seriously... More than anything else, this is great fun – and that's rarer than it should be.