This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour saw Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) at the invite of Birmingham Rep.
By Becky Kroon twitter.com/BeckyKroon
Review: Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) returns to Birmingham Rep
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “A bold, witty and sometimes messy love letter”
Written and Directed by Isobel McArthur after Jane Austen
Things that you need to see? Elizabeth Bennet singing You’re So Vain by Carly Simon to Mr Darcy in a thick Welsh accent. Isobel McArthur’s Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)’ is a hilarious retelling of Jane Austin’s classic. While staying completely faithful to the novel, the story is told in a delightfully raucous style, using audience interaction, rib-tickling puns and iconic karaoke numbers.
Winning the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2022, the wonderful piece of meta-theatre depicts an ensemble of servants playing the roles of Jane Austen’s characters, resulting in a fun, retrospective audience interaction and contemporary references throughout the performance. A particular note goes to their use of contemporary props while reenacting classic moments of the story, with an example being the Wagon Wheels and Iron Bru being the refreshments for one of their courting balls.
The all-female cast of five captures the original themes in the novel of feminism and rebellion. From wearing Doc Martens under their Regency gowns, to their riotous parodies of Austen’s male characters (especially Mr Darcy and Mr Collins), the ensemble were rich with humorous physicality and excellent comedic abilities. The way the cast and creatives illustrated the male presence, or lack of, in the show is masterfully crafted. One of my favourite gags from the whole performance was their portrayal of Mr Bennet, who was simply presented as an empty armchair with an open newspaper, and the hilarious interactions that come along with it.
I am always delighted when a show has the actors playing instruments and creating soundscapes on the set, in which McArthur’s unique use of diegetic sound, sometimes using makeshift instruments sets the tone for each scene and adds to the humour. An example of this was the Monty Python-esque details of Jane Bennet’s horse ride to the Bingley estate, using coconut shells for the horse, and randomly banging piano keys to emulate the storm that impacts Jane’s journey. The sometimes lack of musical perfection was a perfect detail to a fun piece of theatre that definitely does not take itself too seriously.
Overall, Pride and Prejudice (sort of) is a bold, witty and sometimes messy love letter to a novel that has shaped literary feminism over the years. This production is at Birmingham Rep until 22nd April 2023. Book tickets here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/pride-prejudice-sort-of.