Saturday, October 09, 2004

Play Review: Pride and Prejudice

We went up and saw this at the Indiana Repertory Theater in Indianapolis. I wrote a review of Emma a while ago, but I prefer P&P, and in the last six months I've read the book, watched the A&E miniseries, watched a movie, and now gone to see the play. So I think I've got a handle on the plot now.

Of the three "acted" performances I've seen, the A&E miniseries was my favorite, I think because it was the one that had the length to stay truest to the book. Most good stories can't be told in video in less than five or six hours, so the movie I found pretty disappointing. The play was in a category by itself, though. There was a fair amount of slapstick in it; not many serious scenes at all. The acting was certainly fine, I had no issues with the skills of the actors at all. Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Collins were especially good, probably because they camped up the characters pretty heavily. The girl who played Lydia Bennett gave her a very thick nasal accent, which I didn't really see any reason for. What bothered me the most, though, was Mr. Darcy during the first hour of the play, when it was very clear that what he was doing was courting Lizzy. This is certainly not true to the book. In the book, Darcy's pride would never allow him to court anyone as low-born as Lizzy, and even when he paid her compliments, they wree usually done as an attempt to fend off Caroline Bingley's advances. So to have him up there actually making googoo eyes at Lizzy, I found a bit odd.

One reason why I shouldn't be writing play reviews is that I don't see enough of them. This is a case where I want to say, "Oh, but in the London production Darcy was acted most excellently." I can't say that, though, because I haven't seen any other production, and for all I know the courting is part of the play, not something the actor does. Maybe they need to play up Darcy's attraction to keep the plot moving? I wasn't sure, but if I had been directing I would have told Darcy to act the part more as the proud, arrogant nobleman he was.

The other fault I found was with the Bennett sisters' costumes. They looked like they were all wearing nightgowns for the whole play. I suspect this was due to a lack of available period underwear; if you want to make a gown like that look right, you need to be buttoned, strapped, belted, and tied in properly.

But I enjoyed the play, overall. Definitely worth seeing, and, although I suspect the Indianapolis audience isn't overly critical, they gave a standing ovation.