Gothic fiction came into great vogue among the English-reading public in the late 18th century, thanks to novels such as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. The exoticism, stereotypes, and lurid sensationalism of these novels made them ripe targets for parody, and so a young Jane Austen decided to make fun of them in Northanger Abbey, one of her earliest literary efforts, though it wasn’t published until after her death.
Tim Luscombe’s stage adaptation of Austen’s novel takes the stage at Fort Worth Community Arts Center this week. From all of Austen’s novels, this one seems to work better on the stage, thanks to her broader sense of humor replacing her usual finely detailed character insights. The heroine has read too many Gothic horror novels and sees murder and intrigue at every turn when really she’s just staying at somebody else’s house. The typical Austen-like marriage plot reveals a more prosaic kind of villainy on the parts of her hosts, one that involves greed and class envy rather than dead bodies. Stolen Shakespeare Guild’s production should make for a more rollicking evening than you’d expect from Jane Austen.
Northanger Abbey runs Jul 12-28 at Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 1300 Gendy St, FW. Tickets are $16-24. Call 866-811-4111.