No prejudice here

Entertainment

Timothy Bano reviews a funny adaptation of Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice.

“I’ve got a brilliant idea: I’m going to start my review with that well famous first line from Pride and Prejudice – that’ll be funny” I thought as I sat through the press preview, until I realised it would be clichéd, predictable and a bit crap – so I’ll save it for the second sentence. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that nothing happens in Pride and Prejudice. At least, it should be. Elizabeth Bennet falls in love a bit with Darcy and then doesn’t and then does again and they get married. But this production brings out the humour in the story without turning it completely into a farce. 

Katie Ebner-Landy, playing Mrs Bennet, is very funny as she clucks about shrilly, fretting over her daughters’ futures and fortunes. She is loud, which is good for a garden play, and she is silly; similarly, Stephen Hyde as Mr Collins, with an exaggerated nasal voice, chuckles nervously and jumps from proposal to proposal. Mr Bennet (Patrick Edmond) complements his wife as a calmer, wittier and slightly saner figure. 

Elizabeth, played by Francesca Johns, and David Shields’ Darcy are laced straighter. For subtlety, Darcy wins; for emotion, Elizabeth. As the play moves along, Elizabeth comes to eclipse Darcy – in one scene, Darcy’s declaration of undying love, she picks up the pace and shows some emotion other than the smugness which seems to be a part of her character. She covers distaste, upset, exasperation, anger and hatred and none of it is over the top, it is really quite engaging. 

But the trouble with reading Pride and Prejudice, and a trouble that transfers to the stage, is that it irritates me that people talk as they do. None of them speaks proper; it is all circumlocution. This is not a fault of the script or the acting, it just makes things less easy to understand. Many of the lines are verbose. For example, the gaggle of Bennet girls giggling about the most handsome man in the room is not as natural as it could be.

There will be full-blown period costumes and regency era props amid the verdant setting of Christ Church’s gardens. It will be ideal for a sunny day in 7th week as an alternative to punting, or waiting for a new flavour of ice-cream in G&Ds. 

Three stars ***

Timothy Bano

PHOTO/Nikodem Nijaki

 

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