Pride and Prejudice (the play!!)
This week I went into Salford with a friend to catch Pride and Prejudice at the Lowry. I'm a big fan of the book and I must have seen most of the adaptations out there, but I'd never seen a play and I was intrigued. With a new script adapted by Simon Reade and starring Matthew Kelly (who I mainly know as the Stars in Yours Eyes presenter) and Felicity Montagu (Bridget Jones, Alan Partridge) as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet I thought it was worth a look. And I was right - it was a lot of fun.
I don't go to the theatre that often and when I do it's usually to see a musical, so watching a play was a bit of a novelty in itself - but I thought the story was adapted really well. With a 2hr 30 minute run time (including a 20 minute interval) some scenes naturally had to be missed out or compressed (Wickham wasn't in it much and Darcy proposed on the way into dinner at Rosings, which was a bit odd) but overall I thought it was cleverly done. I liked that the script stuck so close to the book's original dialogue and really made the most of the humour - the audience laughed a lot. I also loved that they included some moments that weren't in the film and TV adaptations - especially the stuff with the letters towards the end.
At first I had to adjust to the acting style, as naturally stage acting is a bit more OTT than in film and on TV, but overall I really liked the cast. Mr and Mrs Bennet made the most of some great funny moments (I loved Mrs. Bennet climbing up the side of the set during Mr. Collins' proposal) and Mr. Collins was fun too, if a bit mad. I was also impressed by the subtler performance of (unknown actress) Kirsty Rider as Caroline Bingley. She really nailed the character. Lizzie and Darcy did a really good job too, Elizabeth seemed a bit modern at times but I quite liked that. The only member of the cast I wasn't sure about was Charlotte Lucas, although that could have been the fault of the direction. She was a bit dopey and lolloping, which didn't seem very 'Charlotte'.
The costumes were lovely - especially Lizzie's blue coat (so swishy!) and Miss Bingley's pink silky dress - and I was very impressed by the set. It was on two levels and revolved so that the changes between scenes were seamless and things could be going on in more than one place. For example, I thought the dinner scene with Mr. Collins worked really well, as although the family were seated around the table, we got to see all the different facial expressions as the table revolved in the centre.
All in all it was a great little theatre trip and I'd definitely recommend the play. Maybe I'd always recommend anything Pride and Prejudice, but this was a faithful version of Jane Austen's most famous novel and there was a lot to like here. The cast really seemed to enjoy themselves and the audience did too! It's still touring the UK, so if you wanted to check it out you can find the dates here: http://www.prideandprejudiceplay.com/#tour