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Pride and Prejudice

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an actor in possession of a good script must be in want of playing more than one part. And not just the desirable parts of Darcy and Elizabeth – would they not also want to inhabit the roles of both the male and female characters when they are drawn so beautifully?

To plagiarise Jane Austen’s opening line of Pride and Prejudice may seem a cheap stunt, but it seems very apt for this production. Austen’s novel encases so many personalities that most actors would wish to populate and capture them all. Joannah Tincey’s adaptation of the novel makes this humanly possible and together with her real-life husband Nick Underwood as Two Bit Classics they enjoy a rollercoaster ride through the majority of Austen’s characters in this ingenious two-hander.

Tincey skilfully arranges Austen’s words to allow the characters not only to speak for themselves but also to tell part of the narrative. Her study of Austen revitalises the characters in a way that no television adaptation has succeeded – the double acts of Mr and Mrs Bennet, Elizabeth and Darcy and Kitty and Lydia are punched out in short bursts with a sardonic wit that indulges Austen’s quiet disdain of society at the time.

Tincey and Underwood run the gamut of their extensive acting repertoire with incredible dexterity. The quick-fire succession of characters, assisted by a simplistically clever costume design, calls on their acting skills to work with minimal props and utilise simple characteristics in such a way that a cough, a giggle, a manly gait or a laconic glance identifies each character before they even speak.

The production is cleverly directed by Abigail Anderson, ensuring that the actors transfigure smoothly from one character to the next, creating a very funny yet sympathetic adaptation of Austen’s novel.

  • Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke
  • October 10, then touring until November 22
  • Author: Jane Austen
  • Director: Abigail Anderson
  • Design: Dora Schweitzer set, costumes, Simon Wilkinson lighting, Mark Melville sound
  • Technical: Kate Wilcock tour manager
  • Cast: Joannah Tincey, Nick Underwood
  • Producers: Richard Darbourne Limited, Two Bit Classics
  • Running time: 2hrs 40mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.