Catherine Morland is taken to Bath by her aunt. There she encounters the social whirl denied her at home. She meets and befriends Isabella Thorpe and her boorish brother John. She also meets the charming but eccentric Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor. And all the time her head is full of the gothic fantasies of Mrs Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, scenes from which will keep intruding into the daily life of Bath society. Catherine accepts an invitation to the Tilney’s country seat at Northanger Abbey, but, as before, lurid images of Udolpho keep superimposing themselves on the perfectly pleasant place, to such an extent that they threaten everything Catherine holds dear. Will she sacrifice her obsession for her love?
This adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel was first produced by York Theatre Royal in 2004, Northanger Abbey has had many amateur revivals since, and four professional ones: at Salisbury Playhouse in 2007 (followed by a tour), at the Theatre By The Lake in Keswick (2010), in Chicago at the Remy Bumppo theatre (2013) and at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds (2017).
Is it possible for an adaptation to be better than the source? Yes! In Tim Luscombe’s adaptation, Northanger Abbey makes for a wonderful evening. A better watch than it is a read.
Duelling Critics, Toronto
I sincerely hope that Austen might have clapped her little hands in delight, for Tim Luscombe’s adaptation is a delight from beginning to end.
Tim Luscombe’s adaptation of Northanger Abbey is an absolute delight: witty, fast moving and stylish. The masterstroke of Tim Luscombe is actually interweaving the Gothic tale of Udolpho into the storyline with actors taking on their fictional characters. So Catherine, on first seeing Henry, sees the dashing Valancourt. Of course, love must follow.