When I found out Downton’s Cathy Sara would be starring in Jane Austen and the Waterman, I was just that bit excited, despite not having watched the programme myself.
So I rang my mother, causing crochet to be put to the side and some internet research to be done. She recognised Cathy instantly. Turns out, Cathy has been in a range of shows (and starred in The Woman In Black alongside Daniel Radcliffe). She’s appeared in daytime series, Doctors, as a few different characters. She’s been in The Bill and Casualty. She’s lent her voice to The Archers. And she starred in Daziel and Pascoe – I’m too young to remember that one, but Mum said it was really good.
Cathy will be playing – yep, you guessed it! – Jane Austen.
Here’s playwright Cecily O’Neill on how she came to write Jane:
“The Southampton years were a time of transition for Jane Austen. Her brother Frank provided a home following an unsettled time in Bath after the death of her father and their suddenly reduced circumstances.
In a series of letters to a beloved niece, Jane reflects on their new situation and the manuscripts and music she treasures.
Charles Dibdin’s sea songs meant a great deal to her because of her sailor brothers and were among the favourites she copied into her songbook. She recalls the stories she wrote as a teenager and shares her plans to return to writing. Eventually, the offer of a permanent new home in Chawton will allow the flowering of her genius.”
Starring right alongside Cathy, as ‘Waterman’ Charles Dibdin, is Mervyn Stutter, creator and actor of BBC Radio plays and Edinburgh Fringe comic legend. His play, Getting Nowhere Fast, starred Martin Freeman, Tracy Anne Oberman (one of Eastender Max’s many wives), and Only Fools And Horses’ Boycee, John Challis. He’s also a songwriter.
On a slightly different note, I very much recommend a visit to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey). It is packed with tourists and you walk round it on a one-way system but it’s an amazing sight to behold. It’s still very much about Maggie Smith – I asked a room guide about a portrait of Charles I in the dining room and you’d think I’d grown another head.
So we’ve two ridiculously awesome people appearing in our play. The only question now is, do I see the 2pm performance or wait until the one at 4pm?
By Charlie Place