Browse reviews

Adelaide Fringe 2012

Jane Austen is Dead

BRAVE Theatre

Genre: Mainstream Theatre


 Bakehouse Theatre (Studio) 255, Angas Street, Adelaide


Low Down

A one-woman show about the trials and tribulations she faces as a single thirty-two year old. All her friends are settling down and starting families, but is there any hope for the rest us? The inevitable truth is that those of us looking for the likes of Mr Darcy and Captain Wentworth have to face the sad truth; they are a rare breed and near impossible to find. However, as the creator of these impossibly perfect characters said herself, ‘Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience—or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.’


Mel Dodge gives a brilliant performance as Sophie, the Jane Austen-obsessed bar owner. The night before her ex, Simon, gets married she tells audience about her search for love. From the school playground at the age of five, the awkward teenage years, the hope that continues into her twenties, her settling down with Simon for five years, and her current situation Sophie’s story is heartfelt, poignant, hilarious most of the time and hopeful. This is a lesson for all women about finding happiness in yourself first before looking to share it with someone.


Dodge gives a brilliant performance and effortlessly switches characters, and plays the characters from her past, present and hopeful future. She performs scenarios that women are only too familiar with—the countless disastrous dates, the break ups, and the parade of men in all shapes and forms. It is an entertaining satire that has the wit, poise, and sentiment of an Austen novel.


The script could have started on a stronger note, to give the audience an idea of what they can expect and establish Sophie’s character better, but it was easy to understand and relate to. It was unpretentious with distinct characters and supporting quotes from Austen, highlighting the truth universally acknowledged that love is a tumultuous part of life even in the 21st century. While the set was impressive, and lighting effective at changing the mood, it was slightly disappointing that some of the props were imaginary and this detracted from the narration. However, the audience responded and reacted with interest, and engaged with Dodge and the all too familiar stories.


It was an entertaining performance—a chick-pick hit. When it seems that the story will end on a bleak note, it is cleverly turned into a story of hope and self-empowerment. This play has all the elements of a one-act play—humour, sadness and joy in equal portions, but with a great deal of humour and hope. It is easy to sympathise with Sophie and Austen and the realities of their lives, and connect with them individually.