Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Pride & Prejudice - Birmingham Rep

Pride & Prejudice
Writer: Jane Austin
Adaptor: Simon Reade
Director: Toby Frow
Reviewer: Helen Chapman

The Jane Austin classic, Pride and Prejudice, was portrayed for the first time in many years on the Birmingham stage at the REP to a full house. Expectations were running high with big names such as Susan Hampshire playing Mrs Bennett in this adaptation of the well known novel.

The play opened with the introduction of each member of the cast onto the simple set which was to provide the backdrop for the evening’s show. The top performance of the night had to be Susan Hampshire who captivated the audience with an outstanding interpretation of her erratic character. Well known for her many television roles Hampshire once again showed her capacity to bring to the stage a vast array of emotion. Katie Lightfoot was perfectly cast as Elizabeth Bennett; she was strong and believable in her a role as an independent yet romantic young lady. Alongside her was Nicolas Taylor, cast as Mr Darcy. Although he was true to character in his display of pride, mystery and wealth, it was a shame that in parts this was not fully conveyed to the audience as his voice was not projected to the extent of his fellow players.

Having already seen two screen adaptations of this novel, tonight’s performance proved to be original and fresh while retaining the key elements of this classic. There was consistency and fluidity in the transition between scenes, with clever use of minimal props and amusing artistic interpretation of the script. Victoria Hamlet’s live violinist role in the part of Mary Bennett added another element to this dynamic performance. The costume design served to enhance the communication from cast to audience of the era and class within which the play was set. This was complemented by the choice of lighting which focused attention on the main players of each scene.

An enjoyable evening at the theatre with first class acting, this was a pleasure to watch. After its sell out performance tonight which is expected to continue for the rest of the week, Pride and Prejudice is set to tour the country and is sure to entertain.

Runs until Sat 7th Nov
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