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Review: Pride and Prejudice

Reading Week! (or Spring Vacation Week or whatever it’s officially called)! A time of rest and of forgetting about life and coursework, and, for a worrying number of people, a time of Alpine skiing holidays – but for those of us not currently on a plane to Switzerland, there is some exuberant escapist fun to be found in this

adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, directed by Kilda Kennedy and Lara Thain, and produced by Lina Atlee and Bethan Chalmers, absolutely none of whom have any connection whatever to this blog and I’m just saying this review is definitely completely unbiased. 


Like every middle-class white woman in the country, I have read all of Jane Austen’s novels at least 4 times, seen all the film and tv adaptations (except the weird Netflix Persuasion) and in general have a normal and healthy and non-Pavlovian reaction to people wearing old-fashioned fancy clothes and aggressively judging people in polite language over some mild indiscretion. These comedies of manners, and their many adaptations and cultural offspring (Bridgerton), are immeasurably popular, and have created a fantasy Regency imaginary even for the gays (or maybe especially for the gays) that goes far beyond the bounds of the original novels, letting every slightly pretentious depressed literature girlie dream of being tasteful and intelligent, falling perfectly in love with someone who happens to be extremely rich, and even of owning property! 


Imagine then, dear readers, my profound disgust and aversion upon discovering that this play is not in fact an entirely faithful reproduction of the novel, that it dares to cut scenes, to change lines, to write new lines, to add new character traits, to cut characters (RIP Kitty no-one misses you), to make Lydia Bennet two years younger than she is in the novel for some reason and also an alcoholic (I don’t really get this one)! That characters, with great impropriety, refer to each other by their first names only! That ‘jealous’ is said where ‘envious’ is meant! That there is but one mention each of Mrs Bennet’s poor nerves, of Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s sublime condescension, and of Mr Darcy’s regard for Lizzy’s fine eyes! Though perhaps we as a discerning audience may eventually be able to exert our powers of reasonableness far enough to acknowledge that it’s actually quite a fun idea to take a story as universally known as Pride and Prejudice and sort of panto-ify it. This is a fun romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I think that’s one of the best things you can be. 


Pride and Prejudice is a story full of silly characters, who naturally shine in a sillier script. Mrs Bennet, played by Ava Cecile Samans, cannot get enough of ‘balls balls balls’, and executes deft manoeuvres (pushes Lizzy across the entire stage) to get the couples together, even gloriously chanting not-so-subtle marriage advice as she marches the Bennet sisters in line towards said balls. Mackenzie Galbraith (on the comparative tightness of whose trousers I will make no comment) hits the jackpot of silly characters, with a very self-satisfied Wickham, a hypocritical simpering Miss Bingley in a truly awful wig, and a role of unmatched silliness which threatens to outshine the entire rest of the play, Mr Collins. This is not the Mr Collins you know: he explodes onto stage through the audience, shouts constantly even when off stage, jumps around extravagantly, seems genuinely violent when expressing the ‘violence’ of his affection, and is also very horny – and impossible not to laugh at. Mr Collins quickly marries, and makes depressed, Emily Shoker’s Charlotte Lucas, before returning home to his illustrious patron (turns to face audience) Lady Catherine de Bourgh, played with much aggression and stick-waving, and even prissy foot-sliding, by Henry Huron, who doubles as Lydia. 


The less obviously silly characters from the novel obtain new sillinesses. Miss de Bourgh, played by Ella Pernet, who also plays the purely loving Jane, speaks only in extremely weird noises, and Teah LeBlanc’s Mary gets a constant, and genuinely alarming, hacking cough, contorts on the floor, and sits sulkily on the black piano stool (to match her black dress). There’s a lot of space on the Buchanan stage, divided by Ami Melville’s set into several sections, most of which are occupied at any given time, especially the omnipresent Mermaids chaise-lounge. Jane, and Aki Sanjay’s

Bingley, spend a lot of their time dancing, or staring into each others’ eyes, in the spaces outside the rest of the action, because they are deeply in love and therefore slightly boring, but there is one brilliant thing about Bingley: he is essentially a dog, and plays with a tennis ball all the time and meekly sits when asked.

Kinda kinky.


There are a ridiculous amount of bells in this play – church bells, doorbells, random little hand bells, and even a weird speech by Danny Spiezio’s endearingly awkward Mr Darcy about bells – for the endless sounding of which a lot of credit has to go to technicians Lewis Fitez and Arden Henley. And the bell-ringing and silliness all comes to surround and put pressure on Darcy and Laura Bennie’s Lizzy at the end, before finally letting them get together. The intelligent and sensible and slightly mischievous Lizzy is of course the most relatable character here, and Laura plays her very expressively and naturally, especially in the second half, with lots of little smiles and awkwardnesses at the idiocy of everyone around her, righteous defiance when refusing Darcy, and the stirrings of love (as anyone might feel) upon seeing his beautiful Pemberley estate. Lizzy’s confusion and self-doubt, which remain almost entirely in her thoughts in the novel, are fully brought out here in her final speeches to Darcy, managing to sympathetically and naturally portray the hardest to believe part of the whole story – that she is actually in love with him.


I mean if the name Pride and Prejudice didn’t get you to already buy a ticket I’m not sure what my review can do, but if you want a fun Sunday night to kick off Reading Week you can get tickets for this online or also at the door.


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other erin (she/her)


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