Pride and Prejudice (*sort of) at Nottingham Theatre Royal
It’s clear from the offset with the rogue cleaning team wandering among the audience who the real stars of this Austen adaptation will be; the housekeepers team, begrudgingly keeping the household running so the main characters can enjoy their romances without the dreariness of laundry and cleaning.
This behind-the-scenes approach, with asides to the audience to explain the turn in events, thrives with its rapid pace, the small cast of five constantly twirling into new costumes and mannerisms. Hardworking is an understatement for the cast who each take on multiple roles and garner constant giggles in the process.
Featuring Lucy Gray, Dannie Harris, Leah Jamieson, Megan Louise Wilson, and Emmy Stonelake, the group dynamic enhances some impeccable comic timing and the individuals shine too. Dannie Harris is fantastic in her polar opposite roles, switching between Mrs Bennet’s hysterics and Mr Darcy’s unwavering stare with ease. Leah Jamieson brings hilarity to dowdy sister Mary, vapid sister Lydia and cringy Mr Collins with his overly drawn-out sentences. Heroine Lizzy is played wonderfully by Emmy Stonelake, no-nonsense and quick-witted. Mr Bennet is merely a silent presence in the corner, a skit that works surprisingly well.
Written (and co-directed alongside Simon Harvey) by Isobel McArthur, you needn’t fear an uptight regency era production.
The explicit brash script is a beautiful juxtaposition to Austen’s traditionally delicate language. There is clear affection for the original text while acknowledging the outdated values of the time. Combined with some running jokes and daft mishaps, there’s plenty of humour for a light hearted evening. The production gives similar comedic vibes to Mischief Productions “Play That Goes Wrong” series which toes the line perfectly between daft fun and ridiculous farce.
The karaoke aspect is key; there’s nothing like a unified belt to Kylie complete with synchronised choreography to seal the sisterly relationship. The show perfectly encapsulates the joy of karaoke, featuring some classic hits to get any party started, including a particularly fitting performance of “You’re So Vain”.
Melodrama reigns in the show; with the action centred around Ana Ines Jabares-Pita’s fabulously grandiose staircase – perfect for those dramatic entrances. Lighting transitions at the snap of a finger are seamless and the anachronistic props (look out for Lydia knocking back the WKD) keep the tone convivial.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Austen is endlessly adaptable, and McArthur offers a refreshingly humorous take on Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice (* sort of) is showing at Theatre Royal Nottingham until 1st April 2023, don’t miss out on tickets here: https://trch.co.uk/whats-on/pride-prejudice-sort-of/