20th July 2015

The Pantaloons’ production of Pride and Prejudice breathes new life into this well-known text. Part dramatisation, part send up, this is a lively and funny performance. 
Five actors contrive to play all the characters in the novel through ingenious multi-roling and narration pushes the plot forward. Dialogue is lifted from the text and witticisms and asides are added to the famous lines, providing a knowing comedic layer. 
The acting is sharp – the essence of the main characters are quickly and humorously drawn: Edward Ferrow’s preachiness as Mary is a delight to watch. Christopher Smart’s Mr Collins is oily and unctuous, bestowing kisses upon any woman in reach, including cringing audience members. 
Alex Rivers is spirited as the central character of Elizabeth. Emily Swatton veers from wholesome and good-hearted as Jane to haughty and downright rude as Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Kelly Griffith’s role of Mrs Bennett captures her histrionics perfectly.
Audience expectations are neatly subverted. A recurring motif is the lake at Pemberley. Characters within the play tease Darcy about him swimming in his lake, Colin Firth style.  
The quickfire costume changes and adoption of props to indicate change of character work efficiently. The set is fairly minimal with few props but is skilfully used to transport the play to the different locations in the novel. 
There is a good balance between observing social niceties of the novel and mocking them. Furthermore, subtle changes of tone provide the dramatic tension of the serious scenes. The interplay of Elizabeth and Darcy remains the focus of the piece so Austen fans can enjoy the original plot.
There is genuine delight at the comic inventiveness of this show. Preposterous at times (particularly the men in bonnets), this is a hilarious take on a much loved novel. 
**** (4 Stars)

(c) Samantha Coughlan 2015

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