FRINGE 2020: Promise & Promiscuity – 4K – Gluttony Masonic

New Zealand actress, singer, and writer Penny Ashton is no stranger to Adelaide after previous Fringe and Adelaide Cabaret Festival seasons with this show, Promise & PromiscuitySometimes repeat seasons can be a hinderance, but in Ashton’s case what she’s left with is a polished, professional, and engaging show.

A retelling, mash-up, and homage all at once, Promise & Promiscuity sees closeted writer Elspeth Slowtree battle against patriarchy, scheming upper-class families, unappealing romantic advances, and her mother’s nerves as she attempts to make her own way in the world. Writing stories under the pseudonym Wilbur Smith, Elspeth wants nothing more than to sit at her desk in peace, write stories that will last 200 years, and have them published under her own name. However, Elspeth soon finds out that she’s just as susceptible to love’s charms as the next woman when the dashing Reginald and the stoic Digby make their way into the lives of the Slowtree family.

Ashton is an absolute consummate professional. In this session, she dealt with outside noise and audience mishaps without skipping a beat. Her voice was incredible, her jokes constant and entertaining, and her monologues beyond impressive. This is certainly a show for the Austen fans out there, and Ashton’s easter eggs that are hidden throughout the show will keep you guessing on exactly which of Austen’s novels she is drawing inspiration from next.

A few slower bits involving Tomasina, another woman after Reginald’s hand in marriage, and cousin Horatio slowed the momentum down a bit – the show is at its strongest when it’s focussed on the glittering Elspeth. However, for a solid, impressive hour of (Austen-inspired) theatre and comedy Promise & Promiscuity is a go-to this Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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