30 Things for 30 Years – Pride & Prejudice Live!

You’ll notice there is no number on this 30 Things post – that’s because I’ve lost count.  I’m going to have to do an update post soon where I go back through my diary and count up how far I’ve got so far in my quest to have 30 fun activities to celebrate my 30th birthday.

So, I have a good friend.  A really good friend.  The kind of friend who always thinks the best of you, even when you pretty much know you don’t deserve it.  The kind of friend who practically adopts you and treats you like one of her own family.  The kind of friend who hand-sews you a Regency ballgown in under a week, because you asked her to and she would do pretty much anything for you. That kind of friend.

Well, this friend bought tickets for us both to go to see an outdoor theatre production of “Pride and Prejudice” for my birthday.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Outdoor theatre?  What if it rained?  Would Pride and Prejudice work as a play?  How would it be performed?  Would I enjoy it?

I needn’t have worried.  I had an amazing evening, far surpassing my expectations.  I’m going to try and write a proper review, without sounding like a dizzy fangirl, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail miserably.  I enjoyed it that much.

The performance was by a company called The Pantaloons.  I’ve never heard of them before but it’s a name I won’t forget anytime soon.  The production was set on a small stage area in a  little clearing under some trees (which led for some good jokes when the trees interfered with the action).  The cast comprised of 5 actors who each took on a variety of characters, including narrating as they went along.  I can’t even begin to imagine the sheer amount of dialogue and cues they must have had to memorise. Some of the cast even played musical instruments while dancing. Very impressive.

Elizabeth Bennett was played by Alex Rivers and a very charming performance it was too.  Pride and Prejudice really doesn’t work if the audience doesn’t fall in love with Lizzie as much as Mr Darcy does. This Elizabeth Bennett was the perfect blend of sweetness and sassiness and I enjoyed every moment she was on stage.

Edward Farrow played Mr Darcy, Mr Bennett, Mr Wickham and (to hilarious effect) Mary, one of the Bennett sisters.  His Mr Darcy was the epitome of a brooding, romantic hero, his Mr Wickham was suitably smarmy (with a very fetching moustache) but, rather surprisingly, I particularly enjoyed his Mr Bennett who was witty, affectionate and utterly adorable.

Kelly Griffiths gave us a catty Caroline Bingley, a ridiculous Lydia (You know you’re playing her right if people want to slap her), and a virtually silent Anne de Bourgh – not to mention a slightly out of time piano.  But her version of Mrs Bennet was my absolute favourite.  She lit up the stage and completely stole the scene whenever she was on stage.  Mrs Bennett would have approved.

Emily Swatton must have been completely exhausted after her performances as Jane, Mrs Gardiner, Charlotte Lucas and Lady Catherine De Bourgh.  She hopped, skipped, jumped and fainted her way around the stage and did a wonderful job of making each character completely individual.  A very versatile performer.

Last, but by no means least was Christopher Smart as Mr Bingley, Mr Collins, Mr Gardiner and (when required) Kitty.  His Mr Collins was easily one of the most repulsive versions I have ever seen, which made it all the more surprising when one of the audience members accepted his proposal of marriage.  The story could have taken an interesting turn!

My personal highlights of the performance included the introduction of Stephen the unicorn, the cast strolling around the audience stealing food and drink as they went (asparagus, anyone?) and Mr Darcy and Lizzie dancing the macarena at a ball, all the time maintaining a very proper conversation.  Oh, and Mr Wickham’s wooing scene.  Oh, and…. Oh for goodness sake, I could go on forever – I loved it all!

I normally take forever to write blog posts but I wanted to get this out there as soon as possible because, if you’re quick, you might still be able to find a performance near you and then you might just realise why I can’t stop bleating on about how good this flipping show was!! I’m even tempted to go back again – in fact, I’m about to go and try and blackmail my best friend into going – Faith – prepare yourself!

Their website is here, so if you’re in the UK – get on there and book a ticket.  And then don’t blame me if you don’t like it.  Blame yourself and your clearly questionable taste.

Thank you for listening – please let me know if you manage to get there.  I’d love to hear if other people share my opinions or if I’m just obsessed. Leave me a comment below.

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