Promise & Promiscuity

Penny Ashton wows with her writing, singing and dancing in the pastiche ‘Promise & Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton.
Promise & Promiscuity

Image: www.fringeworld.com.au

New Zealand performer Penny Ashton cleverly uses an injection of modernised Jane Austen to overcome initial technical difficulties and totally win over her Perth Fringe Festival audience. She wows us with her writing, singing and dancing in the pastiche Promise & Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton. 

Ashton’s combination of Regency references, dresses, "Kimberline Kardashian’s" etiquette tips, the imperative to not become a spinster, and not so veiled references to balls gives us Miss Elspeth Slowtree, Cousin Horatio, Miss Slowtree’s mother and sister, and Lady Quigley amongst a cast of characters all played by Ashton. She moves effectively between each, with particular idiosyncrasies including a pig like performance for Cousin Horatio that makes him truly revolting.

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The best bits are Ashton’s abilities in physical comedy, for instance impersonating the twitty ‘girl in love’ demeanor, which has the 150 strong audience guffawing and laughing. The exaggerated nature of the male-female courtship rituals is excellently portrayed in its subtle recognitions and gets lots of laughs. 

In the famous 'it is a truth universally acknowledged…' speech we find out that young men REALLY want to hold onto their fortunes (who knew…?).

Miss Slowtree hides her literary talent under the Wilber Smythe bushel – you know how that has changed in 200 years – that female writers get five shillings for their weekly story and male writers get ten shillings per story. Laced with plenty of sexual innuendo, Ashton goes on to make the enduring male-female story charmingly amusing but also gently pointed, emphasising key moments with some energetic singing.  A particularly effective song set to Beethoven is truly impressive.  Billy Joel’s ‘piano man’ even gets a mention.

Ashton passionately performs her ode to Jane Austen (including 33 direct quotes) and jigs, giggles, declaims, dances and sings so well that 70 minutes flies by.  As she takes a bow for each character she has successfully portrayed, Penny Ashton, winner of Best Performance in a Comedy from the Auckland Fringe 2013 and Best Solo Show Female from the Victorian Fringe 2013 is headed to the Adelaide Fringe next followed by Edinburgh Fringe, so catch her and her trend setting fridge magnets at a Fringe near you!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

‘Promise & Promiscuity
Fringe World

Performed and Directed by Penny Ashton
Co-Writers: Penny Ashton and Jane Austen
Music Composition by Robbie Ellis, Beethoven, Strauss and Delibes.

29 - 31 January & 1 - 3 February,2015

Mariyon Slany

Monday 2 February, 2015

About the author

Mariyon Slany runs her own communications and art consultancy. Her formal qualifications in Visual Arts, Literature and Communications combine well with her experience in media and her previous work as WA’s Artbank Consultant for her current position as Public Art Consultant.