So here's the thing: I loved about 75% of this show. But the other 25% is a bit too broadly comedic and almost slapsticky for my Austen sensibilities. Now, I'm no Austen purist. I've only read a few of her novels once or twice, I love Kate Hamill's adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, and I adore the Jungle's P&P sequels. But something about the characterization of Bingley as a dog, body parts falling off, and most egregiously the depiction of poor Mary* as a hideous creature who's the butt of everyone's jokes, just didn't work for me. It's a matter of personal taste how one likes to consume one's Austen, and this one went a bit too far.
|Lizzie and Darcy forever!|
(China Brickey and Paul Rutledge,
photo by Dan Norman)
|Mrs. and Mrs. Bennet (George Keller and|
Alex Galick, photo by Dan Norman)
As previously mentioned, the stage is completely bare to the rafters and the back wall, with all of the action occurring within a white outlined square on the floor, unused costumes and set pieces stored in the wings in full (or partial) view of the audience. The charming period costumes (those familiar empire waist gowns and neat suits) are versatile enough to allow for quick changes. (Set design by Annie Katsura Rollins, costume design by Sonya Berlovitz.)
In this review I've used words like hilarious, ridiculous, and outrageous, which doesn't seem quite fitting for Jane Austen. Which maybe is the point, it's just not my favorite Austen interpretation. I'm all for loose and playful, but not outrageous, at least not when it comes to this story and time period. Still, there is a lot to love and enjoy in this production, especially if you're open to the idea of Pride and Prejudice as a broad and outrageous comedy.
Pride and Prejudice continues at Park Square Theatre in downtown St. Paul through December 22.
*If you want to see Mary as the smart, independent, confident woman she was meant to be, check out the Jungle's remount of Miss Bennet.