LOST IN AUSTEN Revisted
I think it’s only when you see all the episodes back to back that you realize how very clever it is. Because it really sucks you through that bathroom wall and into Eliza Bennet’s new/old world. Lost in Austen could easily have become a caricature of Pride and Prejudice. Just a touch more exaggeration or a heavier hand with the comedy, and it would have gone overboard. Instead, by being restrained, it takes Pride and Prejudice seriously enough to be a true tribute.
Of course you have to suspend disbelief to even watch it. People don’t step out of their bathrooms into Regency England. But wait – it isn’t Regency England. Amanda steps through her bathroom into a novel. Now that’s pure fiction.
Hats off to the actors. These actors had to play their roles on many levels it makes me dizzy to think of it. They had to be the original P&P characters, while at the same time, they followed a completely different script. Added to that, they had to work around the intrusion of the modern world into a period drama in the figure of Amanda, who constantly reminds them that there is a world beyond Jane Austen. Yet they not only pull it off and portray characters who are convincing, but they even add new dimensions to the JA’s characters. We believe them to be people from Pride and Prejudice, and the thrill of watching the drama is to see how these people who are so familiar to us will react to the new and unexpected twists in the plot. They were so convincing that fans on any number of websites have been voting to see which of the actors – Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen or Elliot Cowan portrays Darcy best.
Hold on a minute – Elliot Cowan didn’t do Pride and Prejudice!
I emerged from my three-hour stint squint-eyed but full of admiration (in case you didn’t notice). As a postmodern take on Austen, Lost in Austen succeeds in being lots of things at once: a spoof, a loving tribute to Austen, a time-travel tale, a reinterpretation of Austen’s characters, a critique of the social restrictions of regency England, a parody of other Jane Austen film adaptations, and, strangely enough, and most importantly, a romance, with Darcy as the hero.
Mr Darcy (played so skillfully by Elliot Cowan -- I swear his eyes kept changing colour with different emotions) emerges from this unlikely production still very much the romantic hero – not only the hero of P&P, but of Lost in Austen as well – dripping with water and magnetism, of course.
Though I admit to finding Wickham (the new and revamped version) very appealing indeed.
Monica Fairview, whose THE OTHER MR DARCY is coming out in June 2009.