Sam Newton on Northanger Abbey

Zoe Cooper returns to the Orange Tree Theatre following the hit premieres of Jess and Joe Forever and Out of Water with her new play, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

The production follows Catherine Morland (Rebecca Banatvala) who knows little of the world but finds her experience in novels. She seizes her chance to escape her claustrophobic family and join the smart set in Bath where, between balls and parties, she meets the worldly, sophisticated Isabella Thorpe, Iz (AK Golding), to her friends – and so Cath’s very own adventure begins.

Sam Newton plays Hen in Cooper’s reimagining, which is directed by Tessa Walker and holds its official opening night this evening. We caught up with Newton to find out more about the production.

Q&A with Sam Newton

What can you tell us about Northanger Abbey?

It is a joy filled anarchic revisionist take on one of Jane Austen’s early works.

How have you approached playing Hen in the context of the re-imagining of the story?

Without giving too much away, I’ve been able to be led by Cath’s vision and demands of Hen
and be a facilitator for her idealised tale. The fun parts are when that vision clanks together
with reality.

What has the rehearsal process been like so far?

Wonderful. The creative team and cast have genuinely been such supportive and hilarious
collaborators. I feel very lucky to be working again with Tessa Walker (director) & Jonnie
Riordan (Movement Director) who I’ve created shows in the past with separately and
together they are a force to be reckoned with!

What’s it like to be performing the play at Orange Tree Theatre?

It’s been a hoot so far! Tom Littler gave us an incredibly warm welcome on day one, and
hopefully, we’ll get the new season off to a rip-roaring start.

How do you think audiences will react to the change of focus within the story?

Boy am I excited to find out! There’s a little something in there for everyone so I think they’ll
love it. The genius of Jane Austen + Zoe Cooper = Theatrical magic.

Northanger Abbey is at Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond from 20 January to 24 February 2024