THEATRE REVIEW: The Watsons ★★★★★

The Watsons
Menier Chocolate Factory, London
Friday 20th September - Saturday 16th November 2019

Inside the programme notes for Laura Wade’s latest production, which has transferred after an acclaimed run at The Chichester Festival Theatre in 2018, Professor John Mullan opens up his analysis perfectly, ‘We cannot help wanting to complete what she left us’. Mullan is of course referring to Jane Austen, one of the most prolific authors of the 19th century and to whom spanned six finished novels during her lifetime. It is here where things get interesting though,as The Watson’s would have been Austen’s seven novel, but mysteriously got shelved in favour of writing others, and is where Wade jumps in to take the reigns and turn this mystery into a play, to where this review also must endeavor to avoid spoiling what might perhaps be the most thrilling, and unexpected twists in the most recent history of theatre and jaw-dropping moments to which will stick in the minds of the many audience members who will go in blind. 

With such subtlety in the publicity that really should have never gone unnoticed, Wade has managed to create a world in which fully absorbs us as the audience into this fascinating space that is open to endless possibilities, where there was even a sheer gasp audible within the auditorium at one moment in the first act to which in the interval had everyone wide-eyed and talking about that very moment, to truly goes to show the seamlessness in writing that keeps us strapped into the care for the characters and thread running throughout the script, to which the cast do a marvellous job in bringing to life on stage; Grace Molony is compelling as Emma Watson, our protagonist who makes her mark and is enthralling throughout, always full of charisma and energy, and to which Molony flows with emotion that carries through at pace. 

Equally, Louise Ford is undoubtedly the underlying star of the production in a role which will have you riveted as she  commands the stage and interacts with her fellow peers with great hilarity. Fords' talents to create such a genuine and realistic embodied character at times makes us forget that we are in this make believe world of theatre, which can only be a testament to Samuel West’s direction in which is so natural and makes use of the staging to which Ben Stones has designed so organically. As for the rest of the company, to which there are a hefty twenty performers, not a single member feels out of place; Teddy Probets should also get a mention as 10 year old Charles Howard, who is enduring throughout, bringing laughter and straight talking moments which makes you care so deeply. Throughout the run, Probets and Sonny Fowler alternate the role as Charles. 

Overall, Laura Wade’s production of The Watson’s is a feast to be laid eyes on. Ultimately not being able to give too much away, that is quite possibly how the run should be marketed, and you will thank yourself for doing just that as you step into a world of utter magic and well-written characters which will stay in your mind and conversations for many years to come, but just prepare to be picking your jaw up from the floor come the interval...  


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