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Jane Austen's Lady Susan Reimagined

Rob Urbinati’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s "Lady Susan" brings a fresh perspective to an 18th-century novella, transforming it into a play that resonates with today's audiences through its wit and feminist undertones. This adaptation doesn’t just translate Austen’s work onto the stage; it reinterprets it, keeping the original’s charm while making its characters and themes more accessible and relevant.

About Lady Susan

"Lady Susan" centers on a widowed woman in her thirties who moves from London's late 18th-century elite circles to her brother-in-law Charles Vernon's country estate. Catherine Vernon, the estate's mistress, is wary of Lady Susan, known for her seductive reputation, and is not pleased with her arrival. Catherine's worries grow when her young brother Reginald is instantly captivated by Lady Susan. Soon after, Lady Susan’s strong-willed daughter Frederica and her friend Alicia, who dislikes the countryside, arrive. The situation escalates with the entrance of Sir James, enamored with Susan, who she plans to match with her daughter, leading to a series of humorous complications.

Bringing Letters to Life

Originally told through letters, "Lady Susan" in its stage form is set entirely in a drawing room, where Urbinati cleverly transitions the novella’s epistolary narrative into lively dialogue. This setting allows for a dynamic exploration of characters' schemes and revelations, all taking place over a single, intense week.

Feminist Undertones

Urbinati refocuses Lady Susan’s character from a manipulative antagonist into a protagonist who navigates societal restrictions with the only tools available to her. This shift offers a nuanced view of Lady Susan, framing her actions as responses to the limited options for women of her time. Urbinati himself labels his work as feminist, highlighting the parallels between Lady Susan’s struggles and the ongoing fight for gender equality. Carolyn Jack of The Jane Austen Society of North America encapsulates this sentiment, noting that modern women can relate to Lady Susan’s motivations as she had "no options."

Contemporary Relevance

This adaptation does more than retell a historical story; it reflects on contemporary issues of gender equality, making it clear that while times have changed, the essence of the struggle remains. It invites audiences to see Lady Susan not just as a character from the past, but as a reflection of persistent societal challenges.

Broadway World has said that Lady Susan is “Breathtakingly stunning... Taking its inspiration from Jane Austen, this 21st-century work has all the eloquence of an early 19th-century classic, as it explores the intricate, timeless mating games that seem as relevant today as they did more than 200 years ago.”

Rob Urbinati's "Lady Susan" is a testament to the timelessness of Jane Austen's insights into society and gender. By reimagining the novella for the stage with a focus on feminist themes, Urbinati offers a version of "Lady Susan" that is both a critique of its time and a mirror to ours, urging a reexamination of how we view autonomy, agency, and equality.

Meet the Cast

We're excited to introduce the remarkable talents who will bring Jane Austen's "Lady Susan" to life. This adaptation aims to charm and amuse, featuring a cast as splendid as the story itself.

  • Lady Susan, portrayed by Susan Finch, is a widow with unmatched wit and charm, navigating society's constraints with grace and cunning.

  •  Charles Vernon, depicted by Timothy Eggert, is Lady Susan’s amiable brother-in-law who navigates the turbulent waters of family and societal expectations.

  •  Catherine Vernon, played by Joyce Hall, is the lady of the house, whose skepticism of Lady Susan's motives adds a delicious tension to the air.

  •  Reginald DeCourcy, brought to life by Rex Koern, is Catherine’s younger brother, whose fascination with Lady Susan stirs the plot into a delightful frenzy.

  •  Frederica, depicted by Keowee McNeil, is Lady Susan's determined daughter, caught in the whirlwind of her mother's schemes.

  •  Alicia Johnson, portrayed by Katie Cross, isLady Susan's confidante, whose disdain for country life brings humor to her every scene.

  •  Sir James Martin, played by Jody Koster, is hopelessly smitten with Lady Susan, unknowingly entangled in her plans for her daughter.

This skilled ensemble will take you to the fascinating world of Regency England, where the desires and challenges of each character merge to form a narrative that is as captivating as it is humorous.

Get Tickets

"Lady Susan" runs on the MainStage from April 19, 2024 to May 5, 2024.

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