Photo: Crystal Ludwick Photography
Pride and Prejudice
By Janet Munsil, Adapted from the book by Jane Austin
Directed by Charlie Sexton
A review by Jennifer Starr
Entire contents are copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Starr. All rights reserved.
Commonwealth Theatre Center’s Production of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice was indeed enjoyable. The young cast did an exceptional job bringing Ms. Austin’s work alive and totally captured the humor that is sometimes missing in the more serious film adaptations of this classic romance. I appreciated the hard work done by these students. The brisk pace was welcome and I could tell they were well-rehearsed. Though there were a few opening night jitters and some too-speedy pace here and there, the company was cohesive and convincing in their character portrayals and I could tell they were having a grand time retelling this classic piece.
Pride and Prejudice is set in the Regency Era in Great Britain. It is the story of a family of five sisters with well-meaning and sometimes conniving parents who want quality spouses for each daughter so the family will not be bereft once the patriarch of the family passes. The plot follows the 2nd oldest sister, Elizabeth Bennet, played by a dynamic Bella Detwiler, who learns the lessons of prejudgment, manners, wealth, deceit, and love all while weaving the characters of the story in and out of relationships. Eventually, after realizations and truths, three of the sisters find their loves and the family gains confidence in their future lives.
The dialects were well done and smooth and held throughout the production. Not an easy feat by far. The rehearsal work of the script was well received by this viewer. I applaud these actors for their focus to details of the many words of Jane Austin. The only caution I’d offer ws about with the timing of the lines. The pace was so brisk that I missed some of the pauses that may enhance the humor. As these actors grow I truly believe they will come to use silences as well as words in their deliveries and provide future knock-out performances.
Highlighting the humor of the production, there were a few standout actors whose character work was fabulous. The performance from Mrs. Bennet, the matriarch of the family, was played with charming bawdiness by Taylor Broder. She was a joy to watch. A great balance of a nagging, know-it-all, conniving mother with dramatic clownishness. Another character who stood out for me was Mr. Collins, played adroitly by Jack Scott, who nailed the part of the foolish, awkward cousin in need of a wife. Genny Friesen rounded out my top three comedic performers as she thoroughly captured young sister Lydia’s boy-crazy and over-indulged behaviors, though I caution her to not over project at times.
Bella Detwiler held command of the story through the evening and was polished to perfection. I was in awe of her grasp of the main character, Elizabeth Bennet. Roscoe Lindsay-Bruns played the older Mr. Bennet with sweet strength and exuded both love and light with his dealings with his wife and beloved daughters. Alexander Diakov’s Mr. Bingley was genuinely played and his sister, Ms. Caroline Bingley, played by a tenacious Makayla Roth, served very well as a devilish villain. The smoldering but rigid Mr. Darcy, was well cast and played by a talented and reserved Jackson Guarino-Sanders.
The spare set worked in concert with the scrim which had excellent use of backlighting and projected artwork. The choices of classical art and music pieces provided light interludes for the quick set changes and provided a cohesiveness to the time period. I enjoyed the wonderful costume pieces by designer Lindsay Chamberlain and loved each of the five sisters’ authentic Regency period designs.
The production was a delight for the audience. There were a few outbursts by an audience member who had clearly never seen the movie nor read the novel. It was a joy to experience her discovery of the characters’ faults and other plot twists in a live venue. Costumed members of the local Jane Austin Society were in attendance of this sold-out performance as well. They were enamored with this wonderful show and I could tell they were proud of these thespians. I was entertained and delighted with this spot-on student production and look forward to seeing all of these actors again on the stage.
Cast Members: Sarah Seim, Bella Detwiler, Lauren Wood, Meaghan Northup, Genny Friesen, Roscoe Lindsay-Bruns, Taylor Broder, Killian Meaney, Aidan Kash, Alexander Diakov, Makayla Roth, Sydney Snyder, Jackson Guarino-Sanders, Jack Scott, Trace Henderson, Leah Cohen, Charlotte Meeley, Tovah Campbell, & Chloe Fitch
Pride and Prejudice
January 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, & 25 @ 7:30,
January 18 & 25 @ 2:00
Nancy Sexton Stage
Commonwealth Theatre Center
1123 Payne Street
Louisville, KY 40204
Jennifer Starr is an LA (Louisville Area) performer and director that has been involved with Louisville Community Theatre for 11 years. She has a BA in Theatre from EKU and serves on the board of directors for The Mind’s Eye Theatre Company.