REVIEW: ‘Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)’, Birmingham REP

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that all Jane Austen adaptations in possession of an all-female cast, pop songs, and a slab of Viennetta, must make for a rollicking night at the theatre.

With direction from Paul Brotherston, theatre company Blood of the Young bring their unique take on a Jane Austen classic to the stage in ‘Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)’. 

This is Austen as you’ve never seen her before. Told from the perspective of six maids – those for whom there is all-too-often no happy ending, no walking off into the sunset – these women usually remain in the background. Used to cleaning up after those above stairs, emptying the chamber pots, and ensuring that all things necessary for a whirlwind romance are firmly in place (ie. clean bedding), ‘Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)’ brings these women singing and dancing into the foreground.

The cast of just six women play every iconic character from the novel, from the brooding Mr Darcy to the peevish Mr Collins, the neurotic Mrs Bennett, to the transparent, almost non-existent man of no words, Mr Bennett. We meet the beloved Bennett girls – the beautiful one, the spirited one, the loud one, the youngest one and… the other one. 

The maids also adopt a narrative role, which allows them to impartially take a step back and relay to the audience events and emotions.

Starring Tori Burgess, Felixe Forde, Christine Gordon, Hannah Jarrett-Scott, Isobel McArthur (who wrote the play) and Meghan Tyler, the production is littered with bold, feisty performances, showcasing a range of talents and accents as the actors flit between maids and aristocrats.

This all-female version works wonders, proving that men aren’t necessary for a romance of this scale – “for what are men to rocks and mountains?”.

A musical comedy, pop songs are brilliantly woven into the narrative, with iconic characters bursting into song. Indeed, the only thing to match Mr Darcy emerging dripping wet from a lake, is Mr Darcy bursting into a rendition of The Partridge Family’s ‘I Think I Love You’.

With one permanent set piece by Ana Inés Jabares-Pita, the actors move props and furniture around, quickly and repeatedly changing costumes to transport us from Meryton, to Netherfield, to Pemberley.

A funny feminist adaptation, the story loses none of its romance, with touching moments aplenty towards the show’s close.

Fitting for a Blood of the Young production, the show pulses with youthful life, energy and vigor. Young hearts run free in this sparkling literary adaptation.

With gags galore, expect sharp-tongued wit in this sure-fire hit!

Reader… Go see this show!

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