Drama Review: Pride and Prejudice (The Gate Theatre production)

Jane Austen has always been one of my favourite authors, not just because of her famous novels, but also the fact that she made it as a author in her time where women in the literary world were still quite oppressed. Pride and Prejudice is my favourite work of hers. Reason 1: Mr Darcy. Need I say more?  Actually, there are INDEED more. But I am not going to share them here. This post is for my review on the play I watched last night in the Lyric Theatre in the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

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The Gate Theatre’s production of Pride and Prejudice is overall delightful. The characters all stand out on their own, especially Mr and Mrs Bennet. I sat at the last row but the view was still very clear, though I could not really see the actors’ facial features clearly. The narrator of the story is Elizabeth Bennet, the so-called protagonist herself. The play generally follows the original flow of the story, with the news of Mr Bingley in Netherfield arriving in the Bennet household.

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The set itself has no big changes. They kept moving the chairs and tables around but I guess that’s how you do it with such limited space. It is, indeed, convenient. But when it came to the scene where Elizabeth visits Pemberley, I couldn’t really get into the scene because…well… it is exactly the same with the Bennet house. The music is very soothing, very much like the movie score itself but with no dramatic changes I would say.

One of the reasons why I decided to watch this play on my own is because last year, i wrote a 20 minutes play for my college on Pride and Prejudice and I am really curious to see how other productions are like. Of course, they have up to like 150 minutes so big differences are there. Thus, I paid extra attention to the script itself last night. Some of the most iconic lines like “It is a truth universally acknowledged ….” were given to certain characters, with the example to Elizabeth herself. I don’t really like Elizabeth saying that line. Maybe they want to try to make it iconic but I feel like if one of the sisters has to say that line, it should be like Lydia or Kitty. Most of the dialogues can be traced back to the book with Mary’s lines identical to the book (not that I judge). What can I say more than they stay true to the book?

Okay, let’s talk about my love, Mr. Darcy 🙂

Portrayed by Sam O’Mahony, this character gets better and better as the play goes deeper. At first, I truly did not see his “charm” but maybe that’s because he is supposed to be awkward, proud, and arrogant. OR maybe because I sat too far away. But I like his deep voice and his stressing. His interaction with Caroline Bingley is hilarious (we will talk about “hilarious” later). At first, in the first half of the play, i do not really see the chemistry between him and Elizabeth, especially the first proposal scene. BUT, I changed my mind about this in the second act where they totally hit it off in Pemberley. The last scene was so well done. Witty, romantic and austeny.

The costumes designed by Bruno Schwengi are gorgeous and so…distinctive. Although I sat at the back, but I can see minor differences in the Bennet sisters’ dress that totally tell who they are and help audiences identify them. The gowns and headpieces of Caroline Bingley are extremely elegant and posh, so fit withe the character herself. As to the gentlemen’s costumes, what can i say? I am attracted to well-dressed gentlemen with British accents. Nice suits everywhere.

SO, yes, let’s talk about “hilarious”. One thing that I disagree with the production, is somehow, it appears to me as more of a comedy than a romantic drama. Of course, there should be comedic elements, as there are some in the book. But sometimes, it seems to me, that the jokes overshadow the content itself. If you have read the book before like I did, maybe you will find it not as… serious as it should be. Not dead serious, but a certain level of… seriousness. (i don’t know how to deliver it). BUT, again, it gets better in the second act, perhaps it’s because all the real troubles come. With Lydia eloped with Wickham and all, things start to go wrong and people get terrified and OUR PRINCE Mr Darcy comes to rescue.

In general, I would give it a 9 out of 10 Darcies. It is a delightful play that will enlighten your weekend well. It is fine for you to watch it without knowing the book or anything about Austen. It may just be a nice way for you to start exploring the world of Jane Austen.

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