The Herald on LNT's Pride & Prejudice
re-printed with permission.
Thanks to The Herald and Charlie McMeekin
all photos courtesy of Robert Eddy
set design: Lindsey Baldwin, costume design: Cora Fauser, lighting design: Joyce Liao, psm: Tanner Lias
Theater Review: Pride and Prejudice
Lost Nation Theater
by Charlie McMeekin
Pride and Prejudice: Full of Pop and Play
Lost Nation Theater's final production of their 31st season epitomizes all that is good about their theater, a sumptuous banquet of creativity, whimsy, physical comedy and committed acting.
Director Kathleen Keenan made it clear in her notes that this was an ensemble production, and it was radiantly clear in the absolute commitment each actor and technician brought to the stage business.
(L-R: Alex Carr, Aaron Aubrey, Anna Rock)
We're talking about Jane Austen's classic romantic novel of manners, Pride and Prejudice , transformed into a play by Kate Hamill.
It humorously explores the attraction between man and woman which often leads to marriage, a state which Austen declares is "fundamentally flawed". It also looks into the issues of, well, pride and prejudice, the ways in which we hold selfishly onto our first impressions, and the consequences which follow.
It also plays with the roles men and women play in the society of the early 1800s, much of which may still be alive today! And what better way to confuse the issue than by casting some men as women, and some women as men. And if that isn't role-bending enough, several of the cast members play multiple roles.
Again, the result is breathless wonder and moments of absolute hysterics, especially when one character has to say goodbye to another, and the actress is playing both roles.
(Kim Allen Bent as Mrs. Bennet, photo Bob Eddy)
The show begins with a dance, nicely choreographed by Taryn Noelle, and the dances continue throughout the action, always eliciting cheers from the audience.
It's a bit of a spoof on the book's initial focus, on preparations for a ball, and of course, the cast also throws its own ball into various scenes, to great effect. A bouncy ball, that is!
The ball in the novel is being held to celebrate the arrival of Mr. Darcy, one of England's wealthiest bachelors. Among those invited are the Bennett daughters, all of whom are single, with a mother who is determined to have one of them snag Darcy and save the family manor. His love interest is Elizabeth Bennet, and the chemistry between the two of them ranges from combustion to displacement to synthesis. Aaron Aubrey and Katie Shults are the very foundation the show needs if it is to stay true to the book, and they are firm, and fun.
(Katie Shults as Lizzy, Aaron Aubrey as Darcy,
Abby Paige as Charlotte)
The senior Bennets are Abby Paige and Kim Bent, with Kim playing the wife and Abby the husband. Abby's got British manhood down, with some fantastic deliveries, like the moment he (she) turns to his continually coughing daughter and barks "Have consumption or be done with it". Kim's female is whoopingly loud and as active as a dervish.
The other Bennet daughters are created by Essence Brown, who gives us a most lovable Jane, the eldest daughter, and Elizah Hill, who joyfully announces her every entrance as the youngest daughter, Lydia. It's a beautiful contrast with her work in the role of the story's wealthy dowager, who's a polar opposite to Lydia.
The final daughter, the queen of cough, is Mary, and Anna Rock won my heart with her portrayals. At one point, she's playing the piano, which is actually just a painted piece of flatwood, but Anna almost convinced me she was the one making the music. And in her double role as Charles Bingley, Darcy's best friend, love for Jane Bennet brings out an amazingly funny, non-stop canine presentation.
Finally, Alex Carr delighted me in all three of the roles he plays, my favorite moments being when he exhibits a verbal quirk where he hits a word that doesn't quite carry the meaning he wants, and tries several times quickly to replace it, using a vocal tic that becomes funnier the more he uses it.
This stellar cast was supported by spot-on sound work by Tom Shread. In comedy, timing is crucial, and at no point did the multiple sound cues fail to deliver.
(Essence Brown as Jane. Elizah Hill as Lady Catherine)
Over the years, I've learned that one of my favorite times in theater is when there is so much going on that I can't possibly take it all in.
Lost Nation has given me those moments before, and this time they just stacked one moment on top of another.
Everyone played, everyone danced. And the audience was invited into the game.
What a great way to end a summer season.
Pride and Prejudice runs through October 20. Ticket information is available online at lostnationtheater.org or by calling 229-0492.
(L-R: Alex Carr as Collins, Aaron Aubrey, as Darcy, Essence Brown as Miss Ann DeBurgh)