It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you don’t start an article on anything to do with Pride and Prejudice with Austen’s famous first line then you might as well not have written it at all. And so begins my review of Joannah Tincey’s exceptional adaptation of the classic novel
Following a twenty-five-minute hike to campus through Exeter’s many (many) hills, I was just grateful for the sit down upon reaching Northcott Theatre and was immediately considering which flavour of ice cream to go for during the interval. Sometime during the very serious debate I was having with myself over the benefits of chocolate over strawberry, I cast my eye over the set which had already seemed to capture the audience’s curiosity: a sparse display of objects, strewn amongst the mere suggestion of a room. I admit I was struggling to see how we would be transported across counties, through ballrooms and underneath the shades of Pemberley (polluted or otherwise) via a few beams and the odd chair, but when the lights dimmed what followed was two and a half unmissable hours of sheer theatrical brilliance.
Tincey has managed to take the words of twenty-one characters – plus a sizeable chunk of Austen’s narration – and put them in the mouths of just two actors: herself and her husband, Nick Underwood. The pace is as unrelenting as the humour, with the two performers masterfully and seamlessly juggling a variety of props and accents throughout. What’s more, you can’t help but be buoyed along by the subtlety, energy and – despite being rather more Com than Rom – the powerful intimacy of having just the two actors on stage. Somehow, every witty remark, every arch of the brow, every rebuked proposal seems all the funnier coming from Elizabeth Bennet who is also Mr Lucas who is also Caroline Bingley who, somewhere in the muddle, is Austen herself.
In short, if you fancy a laugh, have a couple of hours to spare and are up for a little stretch of the imagination, watching Pride and Prejudice will be the best choice you’ve made all year (aside from choosing chocolate chip in the interval).
– Erin Maher
(featured image from http://www.pandptour.com