Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My Latest Guilty Pleasure - ITV's 'Lost in Austen'

Ah, she's done it again... Somehow, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has found its way into yet another adaptation (on ITV this time). As heretical as this fantastic version of the story is, I'm absolutely loving it!

The show's protagonist, Amanda Price, is a gal living in our totally unromantic modern world. Often curled up on the couch in her small flat, with a deadbeat boyfriend, and a rather familiar obsession with Darcy and the Bennets *ahem*, most of us would find her pretty relatable.

That is, until she finds herself switching places with Elizabeth Bennet via an 'Alice in the Wonderland'-like doorway in her flat.

Courtesy of this remarkable event, Amanda has to adapt to an unexpectedly un-romantic life as a single woman living in the story's 19th century setting. The only problem is, she also seems to be in danger of throwing the original Austen storyline into complete disarray by her very enthusiastic (and hilariously confused) presence.

We're treated to some beautiful decor in the show. But what I'm loving most at the moment is the lovely tongue-in-cheek dialogue that seamlessly switches between the language of the 19th century and Amanda's very 21st century thinking.

Could anyone not adore the moment when Amanda persuades Darcy to re-enact Colin Firth's dip in the lake, remarking that she's just experiencing a "bit of a strange post-modern moment here" as he walks out looking so... sighhhh.... what can one say about that?:)

And her method of rebuffing Mr.Bingley's advances (yes, horror of horrors, he seems to be falling for her instead of Jane) was absolutely hilarious in context!

I suppose that's what makes this production work: it's really very clever in its comedy. Austen's beloved characters have been re-thought with enough tact, rapier wit and intelligent humour that we still recognise our favourite old friends.

The arrogantly authorative Darcy, quiet Jane, the odd couple that is Mr and Mrs Bennet, the Bingleys - and of course the sanctimonious Mr.Collins - still make their appearances, much to my delight. The only character that's really been missing in all her glory is Elizabeth Bennet.

Yes, I thought so too- how can one have any kind of Pride and Prejudice experience without Elizabeth? And yet, it works.

I feel horrified at the effects of Amanda's unwitting machinations on the plot (akin to a hapless train wreck that's somehow so damn funny you want the train to wreck) but I cannot help but stay glued to my seat to see how it all works out.

A lot of the show's success lies in Jemima Rooper's rendition of Amanda. Rooper brings the unlikely storyline alive with her portrayal of Amanda's bewildered, well-meant interference on behalf of Elizabeth (who has left her stranded in fiction apparently).

Amanda's dislike of Wickham is so militant in its ferocity that you can't help but think the story in the book must have been real to have inspired such passion in her. Her awed confusion when faced with the arrogantly annoying (and yet so utterly attractive) Darcy just sweeps one away into Austen's world, no matter the discrepancies with the original story.

Lost in Austen indeed... I only wish there were more than 4 episodes to this show. I'm dreading the upcoming fourth episode, simply because I know it'll be the end of a deliciously entertaining ride.

Hmmmm, I wonder how it will end? I can't help rooting for Amanda over Elizabeth now. I guess all I can say is, the ITV team have certainly converted this ardent Austen fan into a fan of their alternative Austen world:)

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