Pride & Prejudice * (*sort of) ★★★★★ Criterion Theatre | Nov 4, 2021 - Apr 17, 2022


Thank goodness that theatre still has the ability to surprise and Isobel McArthur's Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) certainly surprised us. Five actresses portray the female servants in the Bennet household who retell one of literature’s most famous stories, and these same five actresses play every other character, as well as singing and playing instruments. Songs such as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "I Got You Babe" and "You’re So Vain" all seem to arise quite naturally! This becomes a delightful, irreverent yet affectionate treatment of Austen's classic. The writing is full of occasionally shocking, yet charming, anachronistic surprises; it would be easy simply to write a parody but this is much more clever than that. Tori Burgess, Christina Gordon, Hannah Jarrett-Scott, Isobel McArthur and Meghan Tyler all perform with immaculate timing and are frequently devastatingly funny. Playing in the exceptionally beautiful Criterion Theatre, Ana Inés Jabares-Pita has designed a spectacular set dominated by a huge, elegant staircase. Directors, McArthur herself and Simon Harvey, have devised an endless stream of witty pieces of business: Caroline Bingley's seduction of Darcy is tremendous fun and Lady Catherine de Bourgh as the "Lady in Red" is an inspired idea. Mr Bennet's characterisation is perfect whilst the other men are wonderfully amusing caricatures. Poor Elizabeth is so disappointed when Mr Darcy doesn't emerge dripping from the lake! McArthur must justly have pride in this hugely enjoyable show – there is so much infectious joy emanating from the stage. Much to our surprise, we loved every minute.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Matt Crockett.

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