Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of)

“An all-female cast bringing us an evening of hilarity and fun, with some fantastic tunes”

Winning an Olivier Award in 2022 for ‘Best Comedy’, Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) gives us an hilarious insight to one of most famous Jane Austen’s novels set in the 1800’s but brought right up to date with some familiar pop tunes.

The cast of 5 very talented performers descend into the auditorium ahead of the official start of the show in their ‘servant’ clothing and yellow marigold gloves polishing the seats and shouting to each other across the room about the various cleaning tasks ahead of them.  Therein starts what is a very enjoyable night.

Firstly, I must make mention of the performers, Lucy Gray, Dannie Harris, Leah Jamieson, Emmy Stonelake and Megan Louise Wilson who work so incredibly hard, whilst remaining on stage pretty much all the way through this 2-hour 35-minute show (including interval).  We are introduced to them to the soundtrack of the Elvis Costello classic ‘Every Day I Write the Book’ sung through the aid of a portable karaoke machine and handheld microphones which feature heavily bringing us some bizarre, but great musical choices that are slotted in throughout the show.  The songs of Bonnie Tyler and Candi Staton never really made me think of Jane Austen before, but after seeing the show I have different thoughts!

Under the Direction of Isobel McArthur and Simon Harvey, the show takes us inside the novel through the eyes of the servants who wait hand and foot on the upper classes.  Each performer takes on many roles and we meet Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (which of course sounds eerily similar to Chris De Burgh…..you’ve guessed which song ensued!) in their home town of Meryton. The story follows the journey of Mrs Bennett who needs to marry off her daughters with many amusing plot twists and general silliness.

Designer Ana Inés Jabares-Pita really encapsulates the era with period costumes, aswell as the set which includes a sweeping staircase adorned with wallpaper covered in books, no doubt a nod to Jane Austen and the highly successful author she was.  There were many additions of props that seemed completely out of place, such as a Tesco carrier bag, a box of Kelloggs Frosties and a Vienetta ice-cream that brought many laughs from the audience at how bonkers it was.  I felt an air of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ with the acting style and use of props, doors that don’t quite close properly and almost a slight ‘slapstick’ comedy element.

Each scene of the show was filled with humour and as I mentioned earlier some fantastic tunes that take you by surprise, such as the opening of Act 2 with ‘Holding Out For a Hero’ and the closing of the show with ‘Young Hearts Run Free’.

This show no doubt lives up to its Olivier Award with an incredible cast of extremely talented performers and unsurprisingly after it’s very successful tour will be heading back into the West End.  This all-female affectionate nod to Jane Austen, or as the wheelie bin displayed ‘Jane Aust-Bin’ (you had to be there…or go see the show!), is well worth a visit for an evening of hilarity and fun.

This show was reviewed on the 30th May 2023.  Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) runs at Malvern’s Festival Theatre until the 3rd June 2023.  Tickets available here: UK Tour | Pride & Prejudice (sort of) (prideandprejudicesortof.com)

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

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