Review: Pride & Prejudice, Touring Production

As an avid Jane Austen fan, it seems quite fitting that my first review of 2017 is on the touring production of Pride and Prejudice. Probably one of the most iconic and well-loved of Austen’s novels, the Theatre Royal in Bath is full to the brim. I’m unsure of what to expect, as this tale has been portrayed so often (with certain memorable wet shirt scenes), it’s difficult to imagine how they will reenact the charm on stage.

The set is surprisingly more gothic than I anticipated; it’s a dark green and gold metal structure with steps leading up to a balcony, which would look more at home in a production of Northanger Abbey. The revolving stage works seamlessly to link the scenes together and makes the most of the smaller space offered at the Theatre Royal. Although, I feel that the balcony level could be used more, especially for the moments where characters recite letters.

Nevertheless, arguably the most cherished characters, Mr and Mrs Bennett don’t fall short

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Mr & Mrs Bennet (Felicity Montagu & Matthew Kelly) -Sourced from prideandprejudiceplay.com

and offer much hilarity. Matthew Kelly plays Mr Bennet with ease; firm, exasperated, jovial, yet sarcastic. Meanwhile, Mrs Bennet (Felicity Montagu) is the ultimate hoot; loud, obnoxious and bossy. One scene that sticks in my mind in particular is when Lizzie (Tafline Steen) refuses Mr Collins’ (Steven Meo) proposal and Mrs Bennet loses her mind, transforms into a wailing banshee and clings onto the bannister as Mr Bennet attempts to escape up the stairs.

Similarly, as previously mentioned, Mr Collins is boisterously played by Steven Meo, he proves to be one of the most memorable characters as he bounds across the stage in his irritating manner; charmingly Mr Collins-like.

The sisters are wonderfully cast, Lizzie (Steen) is confidently spoken and sarcastic – although a lot of what she says is tinged with sarcasm, which can become a little irritating.

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The Bennet Family (Sourced from prideandprejudiceplay.com)

Unfortunately we miss any bonding that occurs between Lizzie and her closest sister, Jane (Hollie Edwin). However, it is made up for in the hilarious group scenes between all the sisters; this is where we see all their personalities come to the fore. Lydia (Mari Izzard) is delightfully dim – however I am underwhelmed by her entrance as the newly wed Mrs Wickham, it is surprisingly understated. Yet again, this could have been an opportunity to use the balcony to allow her to make a big announcement.

Mr Darcy (Benjamin Dilloway), although played perfectly pompously, lacks charisma and also speaks very quietly, so his presence on stage is not as omnipotent as it should be. This affects the last scene between him and Lizzie, which doesn’t have the right mix of passion and intensity the scene usually alludes. Also, the lighting is too dim at this point – in fact it’s unchanging from the previous scene between Lizzie and Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Doña Croll) – which makes little sense as both scenes are polar opposite in tone. Overall, the stage could be lighter throughout to avoid the strange gothic vibe the production chooses to draw upon.

On the whole, this production is enjoyable and hits the humorous moments perfectly. Without a doubt, Mr & Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins steal the show; it’s worth seeing for that reason alone. As an Austen fan, you won’t be disappointed by this adaptation. Although there are parts that may need work, overall it’s a charmingly hilarious show you should take you nan to.

If you liked this then please like, share and tweet me @tesshenderson94 Also, check out other shows I want to see this year in my previous blog post.

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Top 10 Shows I Want To See In 2017

 

 

Happy New Year! After Christmas and my birthday, I’m finally getting back into blogging. I’ve been a lazy bum. Anyway, I want to start 2017 right and make a plan of what I want to see this year. Sooo… I’ve had a little gander and this is what I have found. Theatre buddies are always welcome (unless you like eating kettle chips while watching a show, there is a special place for you in theatre etiquette hell).

These are all mainly in Bristol/Bath, but there is one London one I was told about that I thought I’d include.

1) Wish List by Katherine Soper: 16-19 Jan, Royal Court, London

A play that explores the dramatic effects of austerity on people in Britain today; we follow Tamsin who works a 0 hour job packing boxes in a warehouse and her housebound brother, Dean who has just been deemed fit to work. Tamsin must fight for their survival now that Dean’s benefits have been cut.

I’m really looking forward to seeing more politically charged plays like this, especially since Brexit.

2) The Corpse Bride, CellerDoor Theatre: 17-19 Jan, Bierkeller Theatre, Bristol

As a fan of this gothic tale, I’m really intrigued to see how these guys do it. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, it’s about Viktor Van Dort, a man who accidentally marries a corpse and is dragged down to live in the underworld forever. We follow him on his quest back to the land of the living to marry his true (very alive) love, Lady Victoria.

3) Pink Mist, Owen Sheers: 23-28 Jan, Bristol Old Vic.

Three young Bristol men, Arthur, Hads and Taff return home from fighting in Afghanistan. We witness the physical and psychological aftershocks of their experiences as they return home to their partners. Inspired by 30 interviews from returned servicemen, this play is set to be a very honest, raw and heart wrenching experience.

4) ‘Baby Face’ & ‘Out’: In Between Time: 9-10 Feb. Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

These two shows from In Between Time challenge elements of society that get overlooked time and time again.
‘Baby Face’ by Katy Dye addresses the issue of the idealisation of the innocent, child-like woman. From knee socks, to pigtails and lollipops – why are women pushed towards looking like six year olds?

‘Out’ by Rachael Young looks at Caribbean communities and the homophobic pressures they face as they worry about being black enough, straight enough, Jamaican enough.

5) Murder, She Didn’t Write, Degrees of Error: 9-11 Feb, Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

Something I keep meaning to watch and never get around to it! You basically become an author of a murder mystery, as the audience get involved in offering suggestions, evidence and even get to choose the murderer and the victim. A night of improvised fun deemed “one of the funniest evenings you’ll have in some time” (Ed Fringe Review).

6) Othello, William Shakespeare: 16 Feb-1 Apr, Tobacco Factory, Bristol

As one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, I like to see what people are doing differently with it. The last adaptation I saw was at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2015 and it was a full female cast – it was excellent. I’m intrigued to see what Richard Twyman has in store for us in this surprisingly contemporary, timeless Shakespeare play.

7) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephens: 14-25 Mar, Theatre Royal, Bath

Yet another thing I keep meaning to watch. I’ve heard so many good things so I can’t wait to see it! Based on a best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, we follow 15 year old Christopher who, while having an extraordinary mathematical mind, struggles with every-day challenges. When he’s accused of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, we’re taken on a journey that changes his life forever.

8) Show me the Money, Paula Varjack: 14 Mar, The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

Multimedia artist, Paula Varjack addresses the issues around being an artist in an age of austerity. By mixing documentary-style interviews with live performance, she creates a witty, yet reflective piece about the creative industry. Painfully honest, but positive, I’m looking forward to seeing what she has to say.

9) Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith: 21-25 Mar, Bristol Hippodrome

SHERIDAN SMITH. Do I need to say anything else? Probably not. I love this musical, I’m a big Babby Streisand fan, the songs are wonderful and Fanny Brice is a charmingly hilarious character who makes humour in a woman positively sexy. THIS IS THE SHOW OF MY YEAR (if you couldn’t tell).

10) Bridget Christie: Because you Demanded it. 8-9 May, Tobacco Factory, Bristol

Did you vote remain, or vote to leave and now regret your decision? Well then, this is the show for you. For an up-front and witty insight on Brexit, it’s worth going to see Bridget. From October 2015-March 2016, she had her own weekly column in the Guardian and she frequently resides on TV and BBC 4 programmes such as Room 101 and Have I got News for you. A truly inspirational, intelligent and funny woman.

 

And that’s all I’ve got for now. If you have any suggestions or want to be my theatre buddy, let me know! Tweet me @tesshenderson94