|Some case of Pride and Prejudice (Alan Alabastro)|
Pride and Prejudice
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through October 29, 2017
I would never have thought that Pride and Prejudice and “slapstick” could go together in a sentence, but here we are! In the best possible way… The new adaptation by Kate Hamill, as directed by Amanda Dehnert, with a rockin’ cast that is ready to catch each other off-guard if they can for a laugh, is Slapstick Heaven!
Do not worry that this adaptation will make you compare it to Jennifer Ehle and the wonderful BBC production. Do not worry, either, that it misses the storyline in the actual book. Rather, it’s a whole new idea of how to present the exact story, only different.
The actors still speak in British accents, and dress more-or-less in period stylings. But they also blow bullhorns, wiggle thundersheets, dance to 21st Century tunes, and change characters while we watch by pulling off or on a jacket.
For those who need a primer on the story, the poor but respectable Bennet family has four daughters that Mrs. (Cheyenne Casebier) is desperate to marry off, hopefully to men who are rich enough to help the family out. Jane (Emily Chisholm) is pretty and very proper, yet somehow aging out of marriageable age. Lizzy (Kjerstine Anderson) is smart, but thinks she doesn’t want to get married, Mary (Trick Danneker) is … tall – and a bit awkward, and Lydia (Hana Lass) is still a bit too young. Mr. Bennet (Rajeev Varma) doesn’t really take any of that very seriously, and let’s Mrs. Bennet manipulate everything.
There are a variety of men (two of whom are played by Brandon O’Neill, who also plays a couple of women) who may or may not be worthy of the daughters. But one of them, Mr. Darcy (Kenajuan Bentley), has a commanding presence that seems to be too proud. So Lizzy becomes prejudiced against him, and thinks he’s an odious and insufferable man. Hence, the title – bet you can guess where it will go…
Almost all the players assume at least one other character, from time to time, and in this adaptation, become characters you won’t find in the book (flower fairies, for instance)! The various props needed are all collected on the busy open stage (designed by John McDermott), with adaptable costuming (by Tracy Christensen) and subtle light changes (by Robert J. Aguilar). Sound effects are designed by Matt Starritt, but often administered by the cast.
Every actor pulls her or his weight or more in this true ensemble. Casebier sometimes seems about the funniest, but just a skosh more maybe than anyone else. Their antics make them laugh, too, and opening night, they were ready to see who they could make “break character” (stop acting and start laughing), and so delight the audience as well.
Telling the whole story still takes about two and a half hours, but they are some of the most fun hours you’ll have in theater this year. Comedy is sometimes harder to sustain than drama, and often the jokes run dry. Yet, here there is always a new character to make fun of or plot twist to amuse.
The show is blissfully silly, yet tells the story exactly. It’s a triumph. Go see it and take just about anyone in the family you want. There’s not an objectionable swear word or action in the entire piece. Though there are some very fun double entendres.