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Theatre Review: Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) does parody proud

This Jane Austen parody is hard to critique... as the cast has clearly predicted every criticism they could receive.

Christina Gordon, Tori Burgess, Isobel McArthur, Hannah Jarrett-Scott and Meghan Tyler in Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of). Photo: Matt Crockett.

Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of)
Criterion Theatre, London, until April 17

There are some theatre directors who regard a playwright’s text as holy writ and would not presume to suggest a single alternation. The bigger the egos involved, the more deference there tends to be, and, God knows, I’ve had to sit through some extraordinarily boring shows as a consequence.

Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) has been through quite a few rewrites since it began life in Scotland three years ago, but, like a fine whisky, it has benefited from maturation.

The show is performed by an all-female cast and they clearly understand what a collaborative endeavour theatre is.

It helps that the writer Isobel McArthur also co-directs, with Simon Harvey, so it means there is little if any division of labour. Actors need to be able to say to playwrights and directors that they can’t make a line or a scene work and everyone needs to pitch in.

McArthur also appears in it as both Mrs Bennet and a wonderfully pouting and posturing Darcy, while Hannah Jarrett-Scott shows a range that stretches all the way from Charles Bingley to his haughty sister, Caroline, and Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas.

Meghan Tyler’s Elizabeth is a lot of fun, too, and belts out a spirited rendition of Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain to Darcy.

Mr Bennet, meanwhile, manages to save the producers another actor salary: he’s only seen from behind in an armchair, puffing smoke and reading a newspaper.

There’s little I can say in criticism of this glorious parody of Jane Austen because everyone involved has clearly anticipated every criticism I could possibly make.

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