Miss Bennet takes place a few years after Pride and Prejudice ended, leaving eldest sisters Jane and Elizabeth happily married to the Misters Bingley and Darcy, respectively, and younger sister Lydia not so happily married to the scoundrel Wickham (see program for helpful family tree). Kitty, the youngest sister, is in London and absent from the play, leaving bookish middle sister Mary as the heroine of this story. And what a heroine she is. She has grown from the comedic foil of P and P, a girl with her nose always in a book and playing music badly, to a smart, curious, talented woman who knows who she is and what she wants in life, even if that doesn't fit with society's (and her family's) expectations.**
|Mary (Elizabeth Efteland) and Arthur (Scott Laban)|
meet cute! (photo by Molly Weibel)
|the family gathers around the piano (photo by Molly Weibel)|
The grand estate of Pemberley is well represented on Lyric Arts' stage. Massive windows with luscious red curtains line the back of the stage, with snow gently falling outside (although it always appears to be night outside; it would be nice to see the changing of the light to signify the passage of days). Two large columns, one the full column and the other just a suggestion, separate the libraray from the drawing rooms, both of which are full of period furniture in various arrangements. We see the piano, which Mary plays occasionally, on one side of the room and a tall library shelf full of books on the other. The lovely period costumes include empire waist dresses for the women, over which a shawl, or a jacket, or an overdress is worn to provide different looks, and suits with various ties, waist coats, and jackets for the men. (Costume design by Samantha Fromm Haddow, scenic design by Greg Vanselow.)
The more Christmas at Pemberley plays the better, and it's such a treat to be able to see two of the three in #TCTheater this year. I recommend seeing both to get the full dose of Jane Austen goodness, starting with Miss Bennet at Lyric Arts and continuing with Georgiana and Kitty (with all five-plus-one sisters reunited) at the Jungle. Each one is lovely and stands alone, but they're also a nice complement to each other and give a better fuller story of the Bennet sisters.