Oregon Shakespeare Festival kicked off their 75th season (yes 75) with a several excellent works. An adaptation of the Jane Austin story, Pride and Prejudice is presented as sweet, fun and charming. Eighteenth century upper-class England, six sisters, suitors of differing motives, a meddling mother, and a wise father are the ingredients for a delightful romp through the classic story. Which sister will be first to marry, how will they avoid the rich and less than pleasant suitor who could rescue them from bleak financial prospects, will they ever know the truth about the generous and the selfish? Will they ever know their own hearts?
These questions get sorted out through relationships afflicted by run-away pride, and unbridled class prejudice. Yes, it is a soap-opera, but a classic one presented here with a style and grace that keeps the audience laughing, and warms every heart.
The staging is minimal and scene changes morph deftly without a curtain. The focus is kept on the players and the story. The actors are able to carry the plot forward with such aplomb that elaborate sets typical of such period pieces were unnecessary. The production’s success rested upon the actors and the classic story. They carried it well. Lively music and dance throughout are infectious such that had the theater been large enough, I would have expected much of the audience to have joined the revelry.
The cast is large, and this short review cannot afford the words necessary for all the well deserved praise. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth lead the story and the audience as they transform themselves to find their love for each other. His unease, her disdain, and their eventual love speak directly to the heart. Mother and Father carry their meddling and wisdom to allow the comedy to flow easily. Among all these fine performances, Susannah Flood, the youngest, most naive, and most adventuresome sister- Lydia, lights up the stage as her part comes forward in the second half. She is also Ophelia in Hamlet running concurrently (Hamlet reviewed separately). Mark her name in your memory so you may later brag about how long you’ve known of her performances.
This play isn’t deep, it isn’t full of nuance, it has no hidden meanings that I can find. It is simply fun. The theater fills with laughter and everyone is issued a large smile to wear as they leave. If a thoroughly enjoyable evening is of interest to you, go see this play.
Review provided by Allen Frazier of San Francisco