★★★★★ | Pride and Prejudice, The Birmingham RepCREDIT: Johan Persson
Masterfully personifies Austen’s work of art.
I remember reading Pride and Prejudice in my early teens, and recall falling in love with characters and the way they came to life on every page. Last night, Simon Reade’s stage adaptation delivered the feeling of nostalgia and I couldn’t help but fall in love again.
It is quite rare to see a cast where every character, minor or major, stand out equally, and contribute superbly to every scene they are in. This was true of Pride and Prejudice. I was blown away by the humour, the tension, and the vulnerability that every actor was able to portray throughout the production. Matthew Kelly did a sterling job as Mr Bennet, with his on-point comedic timing and powerful voice that rippled through the auditorium. The shining actor was Felicity Montagu who played Mrs Bennet, and what a sensation she was. Felicity was the true embodiment of the role and from minute one she had you in stitches. The dour portrayal of Mr Darcy by Benjamin Dilloway was accomplished and perfect for the character, showing Benjamin’s versatility, for his change of mood when he confesses his love to Elizabeth Bennet was more heartfelt and the audience were drawn in. There were some ‘awwws’ when he professed his true feelings to Elizabeth. Elizabeth Bennet, portrayed by Tafline Steen, was a whirlwind. Headstrong, charismatic, un-lady like, and the Elizabeth I envisioned when I first read the book. This was a typical feeling I had, as every role was expertly crafted to suit the novel, making it a magical experience for the Austen aficionados. Doña Croll’s Lady Catherine De Bourgh was a sensation and the epitome of the high class of the era. Her characterisation was composed, edgy and a little on the dangerous side.
The set, as well as the props and effects, transported the audience into the early 1800s where ‘things’ were seen of more value than people. Gossip and hearsay were a constant pleasure manifested in the society of the era, and Austen did a brilliant job capturing it. Simon Reade outdid himself by introducing to us the story we cannot help but go weak at the knees at every time.
I was so impressed by the energy and enthusiasm shown across the production that I want to see it again and again, and haven’t stopped recommending Pride and Prejudice to friends. Perhaps that is why there are scarcely any seats left!
Pride and Prejudice plays at the Birmingham Rep until 12th November