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Pride and Prejudice Review

March 8, 2013

The timing, of course, is ideal, and it goes without saying, when she programmed the stage version of Pride and Prejudice, artistic director Ruth Smillie was aware that 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication. In fact, the book has never been out of print, and its author, Jane Austen, has not gone away. Austen is as popular as ever. We are still reading, and watching. Movies, television shows, plays. Truly a reason to celebrate!

But there’s more to it than that. This production, adapted by Christina Calvit and directed by Marti Maraden, is a celebration of an iconic British writer, and also a tip of the top hat to the Globe Theatre Conservatory. The cast of 16 features 12 performers who have come through the training initiative for young Saskatchewan actors, either as immediate graduates or graduates from the recent past. So let’s begin with them.

Kudos to all 12, who have taken on two dozen roles, leading and supporting, and done justice to their characters, major and minor. Nathan Coppens, Bernadette Green, Chris Hapke, Alexandria Hartshorn, Dakota Hebert, Lucy Hill, Jenna-Lee Hyde, Rebecca Lascue, Daniel Maslany and Christina Persson bring this period piece to life with their youthful enthusiasm and boundless energy. Special mention is warranted for Lauren Holfeuer and Nathan Howe, whose Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are the primary love match in a play about matchmaking.

The Conservatory graduates benefit tremendously from the generosity of fellow cast members Kelli Fox, Michael Hanrahan, Gordon S. Miller and Geoffrey Whynot, four superb actors who provide invaluable mentorship to the young performers and do some outstanding work themselves, Fox as the excitable and irrepressible Mrs. Bennet, Hanrahan as the sage and stoic Mr. Bennet, Miller as the endearing and comic Mr. Collins, and Whynot, who gives us a refined Sir William Lucas and a rock-steady Uncle Gardiner.

Calvit’s adaptation is distinguished by a storytelling technique that requires the actors to occasionally step out of their characters to provide narration, and also by a cinematic structure that calls for constant scene changes. Maraden keeps things moving at a lively pace, and this is extremely important, because the show runs two and a half hours, and anything less than a lively pace would be a disservice to the audience.

The compositions blend strings and woodwinds with the occasional horn. Stephen Woodjetts provides dance music in select scenes and ensures that this “film” has a score.

Louise Guinand has created a lighting design that is invaluable in terms of establishing time and place with the speed and accuracy that the fast-paced script and frequent scene changes demand. The costumes, selected by Emma Williams, are not only a treat to the eyes; they also help to delineate the characters and identify the themes.

Charlotte Dean’s set is a floor painted a sandy colour that serves equally well as an exterior and interior space, with a border that reflects the Regency period’s fascination with classical Greek decor. The actual set pieces are largely furniture accessories such as tables and chairs, benches and stools, and are carried on and off the stage by the performers, as maximum use is made of this theatre in-the-round with its four precious gangways.

Pride and Prejudice runs from March 6 – 24, 2013. Visit the Globe Theatre website for more details, cast information, and to purchase tickets.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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