Northanger Abbey
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★★½ "In Bath, the sheltered and guileless Catherine befriends the vixenish (well, as vixenish as Austen women can get) Isabella Thorpe and deflects the unwanted affections of Isabella's loutish brother, John. Catherine's own romantic interests lie with Henry Tilney, a minister and general's son given to ironic (or insulting — take your pick) observations. The main problem with both Tim Luscombe's script and Joanie Schultz's staging is that Catherine's interior fancies — Gothic and mundane alike — never seem wholly palpable and urgent. The early doubling of characters from the Radcliffe novel with Austen's more commonplace souls (so, for example, John Lister plays both the demanding General Tilney and the father of the Radcliffe heroine) doesn't yield increasing dramatic returns, though Jacqueline and Richard Penrod's spare but evocative set does, in one funny bit of stage business, swiftly change from gauzy sheers to gloomy tapestries to bring Catherine's Gothic yearnings to three-dimensional life." - Kerry Reid