“Nothing in life is free”, or so my mother used to say. Well, there’s plenty of free shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and if Austentatious is anything to go by, then they‘re of an extremely high, and hilarious, standard. Each afternoon, this small cast acts out one of Jane Austen’s supposedly “lost works” in an improvised play based on audience suggestions.

I’m a huge fan of the early 19th Century author (I even named one of my cats Austen), so this show seemed like a fabulous opportunity to combine my love of great literature with the chance to see some comic entertainment. Indeed, brightening up a cloudy Scottish Monday, the six actors performed The Heiress of Pemberley, with flirtation, dancing, marriage proposals and five reasons why pheasants are inferior to partridges, leaving the audience fittingly tickled. The show’s only failing was their not choosing to perform my own ingenious Austen title, “Pride and Perverts”, and I’m tempted to keep going back until they do.

Austentatious provides all the excitement of Mr Darcy in a wet shirt and you don’t have to turn a single page. I imagine even Austen herself would have found this show suitably agreeable.

****4/5 stars

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel is playing at Laughing Horse Free Festival at Counting House as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 26th August. For more information see the Edinburgh Fringe website.