Pride and Prejudice - sort of

Pride and Prejudice - sort of


Posted 2023-04-18 by dpmfollow

Mon 17 Apr 2023 - Sat 22 Apr 2023

This hilarious romp through classic Jane Austen returns to Birmingham Rep after nearly four years – a pause in which it has picked up an Olivier Award for Best Comedy.

Written by Isobel McArthur, the show is a witty and clever re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. McArthur takes all the elements and characters of the original and enlarges or exaggerates them to become laugh-out-loud funny. So dour Darcy is so straight-backed he stalks around the stage scowling, Mrs Bennett is so desperate for her daughters to marry she treats them like a sergeant major on a parade ground and Mr Collins is so dull he even speaks at half speed.

While a lot of the humour comes from this caricaturing there is also a modern take as the 18th-century women, so used to being portrayed as well-behaved damsels, are seen swigging bottles of bubbly, swearing like troopers and fighting like cats and dogs.

The cast of five play all the roles from the classic book and provide a comic chorus of cleaning staff who frames the story and speak directly to the audience.

The genius of the show is that it takes characters who Austen had already caricatured and makes them even more monstrous. So Megan Louise Wilson’s Lady Catherine is more like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz than the severe dowager of the classic. And Leah Jameson’s Mr Collins is so extremely dull that even his proposal is a drawn-out affair.

Dannie Harris switches between a drunken Mrs Bennett whose response to every problem is to hit the bottle and wail in despair on the chaise longue and the dour Darcy.

Emmy Stonelake is a feisty and no-nonsense Elizabeth who is determined she will only marry a man she loves and, in true Pride and Prejudice style, initially decides Darcy is definitely not that man.

The show also has an unlikely soundtrack for Austen including Chris de Burgh’s 'The Lady in Red', Pulp’s 'Something Changed 'and Carly Simon’s 'You’re So Vain'.

Directed by Simon Harvey, the show is swift-paced, moving from one character and one joke to another in seconds, with some costume changes even taking place on stage to ensure there is no let-up in momentum.

Ana Ines Jabares-Pita’s set uses a central space and grand staircase as a focal point with changing furniture taking us into and out of each of the different houses.

While Jane Austen herself wrote so many strong women into her novels it feels particularly apt that it is her work that is given this type of makeover. The themes she so subtly raised of the social imbalances against women, of people’s right to choose love over social expectation, of the power of sisterhood are all brought to the fore but given a modern twist. Behind the long dresses and the manor houses, we see lives we recognise.

Wrap this up in satire and you have a comedy that will run and run. At Birmingham Rep until 22 April see here for more information and tickets.



77732 - 2023-04-18 07:38:16


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