Pros: Possibly one of the most stunning performances by two actors I have seen for a long, long time.
Cons: A mild case of confusion about who was who at times.
Believe it or not there are some people who are completely oblivious to the story of Pride and Prejudice, other than the fact it features a character named Darcy. And obviously it would be complete folly for such a person to be sent along to review a performance of this classic novel; even more so when this production is managed by just two performers sharing acting duties for every character involved.
I’m sure you have already now guessed my working knowledge of Pride and Prejudice. I think it would be safe to say that I was the one and only person present who had to pick up the story as it went. Quite a feat at the pace this was presented. Amazingly though, despite such an absence of knowledge this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and one I would actually recommend to anyone, however ignorant of the story you may be.
Jane Austen’s story is transformed here into a light comedy at the skilled hands of Joannah Tincey and her partner-in-crime, Nick Underwood. Between them they smoothly portray every character of relevance to this story. At least I assume they have not missed anyone too important out, but for all I know this could have been a complete travesty. I doubt it though.
What takes this from a potentially dull play into a piece of highly visual and humorous entertainment is the ability of Tincey and Underwood to highlight the small details. Every character has been given the personal touch, allowing them a unique life on stage. As Underwood places a pipe between his lips, he instantly becomes Mr Bennett; while Underwood plucks her hankie from her bosom she is transformed into Mrs Bennett. Just moments later, she flicks a layer of skirt behind herself, thrusts her hips forward in a manly stance to reveal breeches and she becomes Bingley. And possibly most amusing of all, Underwood gives a little sneeze and giggle and he is without a doubt Kitty.
Just how two actors could so faultlessly maintain for two hours such physical detail, various accents, and a great depth of dialogue is beyond me. The standard of their acting was so impeccable that the story became somewhat secondary to the performance. Yes the plot was intelligible even to someone without a clue, but then it’s clear that the story is not that complex. Even when they flicked between countless characters in the same scene, leaving the audience scrambling to keep up with who’s who, it hardly mattered when the humour of the performance was more than enough to grab our attention and entertain.
Maybe the intimate venue helped. This compact basement theatre is a delight to find. It’s comfy, it’s welcoming and the view seems great from anywhere.
This adaptation may not encourage me to rush off to read the book or hunt out one of the many screen adaptations, but for one evening it was superb enough to make me wonder at the skills of the actors and enjoy this rather unusual and incredibly amusing version of a classic.
It goes to show, sometimes a folly isn’t always such a bad thing.
Original Author: Jane Austen
Adapted By: Joannah Tincey
Director: Abigail Anderson
Producer: Richard Darbourne Ltd
Booking Until: 21 December 2016
Box Office: 020 7287 2875
Booking Link: http://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/show/pride/