From our student guest reviewer Ashton Hall – ‘a brilliantly captivating piece of theatre’

Pride and Prejudice  –  photo supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a timeless classic. This great tale has been told to millions across the world either by paperback book, a television series from the 1990’s, or in more recent times, a theatrical play. In this recent adaptation by Simon Reade, a  young girl named Elizabeth Bennet (played by Tafline Steen) is looking for love whilst her parents Mr and Mrs Bennet (Matthew Kelly and Felicity Montagu) are in dispute of who is the right man for her.

The set was a huge asset to this performance. With no curtains, the stage was open from the moment the audience took to their seats. This allowed myself and the rest of the audience to become part of this immersive experience. The set itself was visually captivating. A segment of the Bennet household was placed onto a rotating stand meaning the body of the set was forever the same, however, depending on the position, the stage transformed into another room of the 1700’s estate house or even the grounds of the garden. With the use of smaller props such as a dining table and chairs this then allowed the audience to understand what part of the house the scene was taking part in. I felt this was one of the performance highlights as it was kept very basic, however once the details had been carefully added, the set was still incredibly clear to understand. To add to the set, the costume design was exceptional. The beautifully designed attire allowed the audience to understand the era in which the play is set as well as portraying the wealth and class of the family perfectly.

As with any Jane Austen novel, the old English language is written incredibly well. This particular play was very dialogue heavy meaning full concentration was needed throughout the entirety of the performance. Therefore I wouldn’t usually advise this play as appropriate for an audience of a young age. However, because the acting was exemplary, if the play was to be in silence, the story would still be clear and easy to follow. Simon Reade did a brilliant job adapting this classic. He introduced comedy whilst still keeping a serious and meaningful storyline. The comedy added an extra detail to the already gripping dialogue. A comedy filled scene was placed in the correct intervals that broke up the intensity of the speech. It was this that kept the audience captivated from beginning to end.

To keep to the classical theme and remind the audience of the era in which we were in, classical music was played quietly in the background almost all of the time. This set the mood for the scenes and added an extra dynamic to each section of the show. I was particularly impressed with the flow of this music. When a dance was about to happen at a family dinner, the music smoothly transitioned from a quiet background mood setter, to the forefront of the performance. We were delightfully surprised to listen to various actresses on stage also playing the piano live. This tied the story together impeccably, as well as portraying how woman of those times were expected to be able to play grand instruments.

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t quite expecting the high level of acting and performance that I was presented with. This was a brilliantly captivating piece of theatre that had been adapted well and engaged the audience fully. With scenes of comedy, the audience were in tears of laughter that relaxed the audience after a heavy going scene. Overall, a classical novel well told.

Pride and Prejudice, Tuesday to Saturday, September 27 to October 1, 2016. Eves 7.30pm, Mats Thur & Sat 2.30pm. Tickets £8-£27.50. BOX OFFICE 01603 630000. Discounts for Friends, Corporate Club, Over 60s, Under 18s, Schools and Groups. Captioned Performance Thurs Sept 29, 2.30pm. Audio Described Performance Sat October 1, 2.30pm. For more info or to BOOK ONLINE