Pride And Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

 

Pride and Prejudice

Following its success at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Pride and Prejudice began its National Tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. I was lucky enough to attend on Thursday 22nd September for the first press night of the tour.

Mr Darcy Photo by Simon Turtle

Benjamin Dilloway as Mr Darcy
Photo by Simon Turtle

This adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is by Simon Reade. I’m sure most of you would have read the book or seen the film but for those that haven’t then Pride and Prejudice tells of the Bennet family, a family with 5 daughters all keen to marry. The focus is mainly on Elizabeth Bennet, the 2nd eldest daughter who meets Mr Darcy. Despite him being initially very enamored by her the feeling is not reciprocated. Elizabeth has heard (falsely) of his dishonour although of course this all unravels. Despite there being no Mr Darcy emerging from a lake (note The Go-Between does this well!!) all is well and they end up in each other’s arms.

This is a classy production with top notch acting and a beautiful set (by Max Jones). The set is on a revolve which transports the audience with ease from a grand ballroom to the Bennet’s household. The direction also makes the most out of the stairways and the archways so the action flows easily from one scene to another.

Taffine Steen as Elizabeth Bennet

Taffine Steen as Elizabeth Bennet

Taffine Steen played the vivacious and headstrong Elizabeth Bennet beautifully. Despite having large chunks of dialogue her crisp accent was clear throughout. Despite Elizabeth Bennet’s own pride she made the character very likeable and I found myself rooting for her and cheering her on in her battle of wills between both Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine De Bourgh.

Mr Darcy was played by Benjamin Dilloway. Mr Darcy is a hard role to get right as he has to strike the right balance of brooding/shy without coming across as purposely rude. At times Dilloway came across as the latter and the sex appeal in his personality was slightly lacking. This made it difficult at times to see just why Elizabeth was so head over heels for him. The scene when they finally get together and you see the softer side of Mr Darcy however worked perfectly and gave me a glimpse of the Mr Darcy that Austen’s readers pine for.

The rest of the cast within Pride and Prejudice was played well. Mr Collin’s, the heir to the Bennet’s household was played by Steve Meo with a perfect pinch of humour and Dona Croll as Lady Catherine De Bourgh coming across every inch the formidable woman. Matthew Kelly and Felicity Montagu played Mr and Mrs Bennet. They were a perfect couple with Kelly’s resigned attitude at being surrounded by all these women and Montagu’s frequent over dramatics complimenting each other nicely.

With not a whole lot of action in Pride and Prejudice there is a danger the play could drag however under Deborah Bruce’s direction there were many moments of light relief within the show. Both the visual humour and the witty dialogue was played out well. Some particular moments also stood out due to the clever direction, in particular the actors playing Darcy and Wickham being human portraits within Darcy’s home and the transition of Darcy arriving home. There was a clever use of the arches within the set to symbolise each painting. Throughout the show the letters were well delivered. Often letters within plays being read by the writer can be a cringeworthily moment however the method used within the play, helped by the clever adaption meant that the letter writing lead to the next scene with that person, keeping the piece flowing.

Overall this was a very classy production of Jane Austen’s much loved romantic novel. Fans of the novel can catch it across the country. Click here for more information.

If you liked this review you may also like my review of Lord of the Flies, Perfect Murder and the History Boys.

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