Review: “Northanger Abbey”


Where: Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse Theater Center, Upstairs Mainstage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
When: through Nov. 10
Tickets: $37.50-52.50
Phone: 773-404-7336

If you’re looking for light-hearted entertainment with a literary bent, Remy Bumppo’s lively production of “Northanger Abbey” is a good bet. Adapted by Brit Tim Luscombe and directed by Joanie Schultz, Jane Austin’s early novel unfolds at a fast pace, as small-town teenager Catherine Morland (Sarah Price) has her first adventures in Bath, makes new friends both true and false, falls in love with Henry Tilney (Greg Matthew Anderson) and, after the requisite number of complications, finds true happiness. This basically is a coming-of-age story, so Catherine, who sees the world through the prism of Gothic novels like Ann Radcliffe’s “The Mysteries of Udolpho,” also learns a about herself and the folly of making snap judgments.

Schultz and her ensemble tend to go for broad portrayals, so Catherine’s fantasies of scenes from “Udolpho” aren’t always sufficiently different from the realities of Bath and the eponymous abbey, home of the Tilneys, but Price does a lovely job of capturing the 17-year-old’s enthusiastic, opinionated outlook. Anderson has some of the most truthful moments as Henry. Meg Warner is just right as his sister, Eleanor, while Carl Lindberg transforms himself from their flirtatious brother, Captain Frederick Tilney, to Catherine’s shy one, James Morland, with aplomb. Annabel Armour, Darci Nalepa, John Lister, and Robert Hope round out the cast.

Jacqueline and Richard Penrod’s simple scenic design makes great use of framed mirrors, while kudos go to costume designer Rachel Lambert for giving the fashion-obsessed characters lots of apropos outfits even on an obviously limited budget.