Arts Reviews

Pride and Prejudice @ Nottingham Playhouse

Few productions manage what Sara Pascoe manages in her reimaging of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. She remains fiercely loyal to the spirit of the original text, conveying all the sincerity and depth of the original characters, and provides a critical commentary that placates the modern audiences in the face of the horrific practices of a bygone age. She brings all the wit of the original novel to life, yet utilises modern references and an ability to reflect upon the text to really drive home profound observations about the world the characters inhabit.

“The themes of the novel are brilliantly explored by a range of modern characters”

Pascoe is brilliantly creative in how she reflects on multiple interpretations of the characters and the text, adding depth and giving the audience the benefit of a century of scholarship in a relentlessly entertaining fashion. She does an excellent job of creating great sympathy for the plight of all characters; Mrs Bennet, excellently brought to life by Kerry Peers, a role which easily could have been a tyrannical mother desperate to marry off her daughters and to observe propriety, was shown to be doing all that she could to keep her daughters off the streets. The themes of the novel are brilliantly explored by a range of modern characters and the Regency ideas of romance are contrasted brutally with our own, giving Austen and Pascoe’s work the opportunity to critique contemporary ideas about romance as well.

“A flawless cast who propelled the story along

The execution of the piece was matched in quality with the writing by a flawless cast who propelled the story along. Undeniably the brunt of the burden fell upon Bethan Mary-James, who was as convincing in the role as Elizabeth as the modern teacher scrutinising her. However, it is true that all cast members playing characters in two different centuries, Alice Haig, Adrian Irvine, Kerry Peers, Alex Sawyer, Olivia Onyehara, convincingly stepped between two completely different characters throughout the piece.

“A truly absorbing performance”

The execution was so hugely successful, not just because of the cast, but also because of the creative use of song, dance and video rendering the piece a truly absorbing performance, and we must credit, sound, video and movement directors, Drew Baumohl, Andrew Bullett and Adele Parry.

“Pascoe’s Pride and Prejudice is a literary work of art told by modern means”

Overall, it achieves precisely what the novel sets out to achieve, but more successfully for a modern audience. A multiformat triumph, it takes a story that has always been entertaining and thought-provoking and presents it in a fresh and exciting fashion. It is creative, provocative and insightful. Pascoe’s Pride and Prejudice is a literary work of art told by modern means and a true improvement on the original. It is, in short, precisely what we wish any profoundly valuable, yet dated piece of literature could be.

10/10 – Must see.

Dale Claridge

Image Courtesy of Nottingham Playhouse

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