PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: adapted David Kerby Kendall.
Heartbreak Productions: Full Tour Info www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 50m: one interval.
Performance times: Varies with venue.
Review: Alan Geary: Nottingham: 20th July, 2011.
Could be Heartbreak’s best for some years.
Heartbreak Productions were back in the grounds of Nottingham’s non-Castle, this time, in a change from Shakespeare, with Pride and Prejudice.
Jane Austen’s sometimes tongue-in-cheek moralising was made a feature of the play. And, it being upper-middle/lower-upper-class Regency England, there was a lot of stress on manners and etiquette. Even the programme floggers were remarkable for their deportment. And at one point the ladies in the audience were taught how to deploy a fan.
Sadly it involved that dreaded play within a play device, something that Heartbreak throw in all too often. The outer play, after the denouement proper an unwelcome anti-climax, involved preparations for a visit of the Prince Regent.
Otherwise it was a splendidly gimmick free show. No liberties were taken with Austen’s text, there was no over-broad comedy: the original novel was allowed to speak for itself.
The simple Corinthian columned set was pleasing; so were the period costumes. Music and singing, some of which was recorded, was done well.
But the chief strength of the production lay in the first-rate acting; if memory serves well it was the best from Heartbreak for some years. There was absolutely no anachronistic declaiming, and projection was nearly always excellent. There was much greater subtlety than is often found outdoors.
It was a close-run thing, but the outstanding player was Gabrielle Douglas – chief character Elizabeth. She projected and articulated magnificently.
Adrian Fear, with a magnificent voice, played Darcy as dignified deadpan, and it worked. And as the long-suffering Mr Bennet he brought a wearied irony into the way he spoke to Mrs B.
Elizabeth and Darcy’s scenes together were the best of the evening. The mostly female audience loved that kiss at the end.
Laurence Aldridge (notably as Collins), Rowena Lennon (Mrs Bennet) and Laura Danielle Sharp supported remarkably well.
Laura Danielle Sharp.
Director: Marie McCarthy.
Designer: Kate Unwin.
Composer and Arranger: Andy Guthrie.