Improvised play inspired by Jane Austen’s lifework

Found them .... The Austen Found trio of Lori Dungey (left), Penny Ashton (centre) and Jamie Burgess all don their Austen-esque bonnets. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Penny Ashton is the first to admit Waikaia is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about an improvised show. As a member of the trio performing the show Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen, she said she was extremely excited to return to the rolling hills of Southland.
‘‘It really is the middle of nowhere and you turn up to this lovely lodge and it’s just such a cute place,’’ Ashton said.
The countryside was the real star of the show, she said.
Actor and comedian Ashton has performed more than 1000 solo shows since 2002 and sold out from Edinburgh to Edmonton and Tokoroa. 
Austen Found is heavily inspired by the work of Jane Austen.
‘‘If you’re worried you don’t know Jane Austen, you absolutely don’t have too,’’ Ashton said.
‘‘All of the dialogue, all of the singing, all of the lyrics, is made up on the spot.’’
There would be plenty of opportunities for the audience to involve themselves, she said.
The trio of Ashton, Lori Dungey and Jamie Burgess had performed together for about 15 years.
Pianist and performer Jamie Burgess, formerly of Gore, said he loved coming back to Southland, especially to perform.
‘‘We get to make some beautiful, magical improvised songs every night together, ’’ Burgess said.
Despite leaving Gore at the age of 3, he still made good cheese rolls, he said.
‘‘A proper cheese roll in white bread and that is a proper Southern magic.’’
The show is being performed at Lodge223, in Waikaia, tonight.