The Watsons

A new play by Laura Wade
Adapted from the unfinished novel by Jane Austen

Minerva Theatre
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Laura Wade’s bold and playful adaptation of Austen’s unfinished novel is given a beautifully bold, clear production by Samuel West. Stunning.


Clever, witty and resourceful.

The Stage

An unpredictable treat, a brilliant, entertaining de-construction

The Observer

What happens when the writer loses the plot?

Emma Watson is nineteen and new in town. She’s been cut off by her rich aunt and dumped back in the family home. Emma and her sisters must marry, fast. If not, they face poverty, spinsterhood, or worse: an eternity with their boorish brother and his awful wife.

Luckily there are plenty of potential suitors to dance with, from flirtatious Tom Musgrave to castle-owning Lord Osborne, who’s as awkward as he is rich.

So far so familiar. But there’s a problem: Jane Austen didn’t finish the story. Who will write Emma’s happy ending now?

Based on her incomplete novel, this sparklingly witty play looks under the bonnet of Jane Austen and asks: what can characters do when their author abandons them?

Laura Wade’s hit play Posh transferred to the West End from the Royal Court, and then onto the big screen as The Riot Club. Recent work includes the adaptation of Tipping the Velvet (Lyric Hammersmith and Edinburgh); her play Home I’m Darling premieres at Theatr Clwyd and the National Theatre in 2018.

Samuel West returns to Chichester to direct the play. He has appeared here as an actor in Young Chekhov and ENRON, and directed Three Women and A Piano Tuner and The Lady's Not For Burning. He was Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres 2005-07, where he revived The Romans in Britain.

Purchase a digital copy of the programme

Our programmes are designed to be the perfect insightful companion to the production. In this programme John Mullan writes about Jane Austen inspired novels and spin-offs on the stage and screen and the lure of the unfinished novel. There is also a timeline of the World of Jane Austen from 1775-1817. In addition, the programme includes rehearsal photography, biographies, events and news from the Theatre.

By clicking on BUY you will be re-directed to Issuu's website. The purchased programme will be available to read on their website and app.

Purchasing a digital programme does not include the purchase of a printed programme.

Prologue tickets available now!


Laura Wade’s bold and playful adaptation of Austen’s unfinished novel is given a beautifully bold, clear production by Samuel West. The acting is also excellent. Louise Ford as Laura captures both the desperation and delight of a dramatist who finds her supposed omniscience challenged. Grace Molony as Emma shows how the lively wit of Austen’s character translates into mutinous fury when she finds she is apparently entrapped in a fiction. A stunning play.


An unpredictable treat, a brilliant, entertaining de-construction that reminds us of the inevitability – in life and art – of losing the plot. Samuel West directs superbly

The Observer

Every bit as clever, witty and resourceful as an Austen heroine.

The Stage

A wit worthy of Austen herself, at once skittish and scholarly. Terrific fun.

Daily Telegraph

A triumphant return to writing for the stage for Wade.

Evening Standard

Acted with alacrity and twinkling with mischievous ingenuity. Dazzlingly clever and audaciously entertaining.


Droll, absorbing, often uproarious

Sunday Times

The 2018 Chichester Festival Theatre season ends on a glorious high with The Watsons, a piece which is smart, hugely inventive and deliciously good fun.

Chichester Observer

Cast & Creatives


Cast List

Sam Alexander

Robert Watson

Sally Bankes


Joe Bannister

Lord Osborne

Jane Booker

Lady Osborne

Elaine Claxton

Mrs Edwards

Tim Delap

Mr Howard

Leonardo Dickens

Charles Howard

Sophie Duval

Mrs Robert

Archie Elliot

Charles Howard

Louise Ford


John Wilson Goddard

Mr Watson

Grace Molony

Emma Watson

Elander Moore


Katherine Rose Morley

Margaret Watson

Paksie Vernon

Elizabeth Watson

Cat White

Miss Osborne

Laurence Ubong Williams

Tom Musgrave

Creative Team

Cast List

Samuel West


Ben Stones


Johanna Town

Lighting Designer

Isobel Waller-Bridge


Mike Ashcroft

Movement Director

Charlotte Sutton

Casting Director



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Running Time
2 hours and 10 minutes including the interval