Pride and Prejudice at the Rosemary Branch
Following the success of last year’s production of Jane Eyre, the Rosemary Branch presents a new play based on one of the most popular and beloved novels in English literature: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Reinventing such a well-known story for the stage is thought of as rather tricky: the novel has been adapted so many times that almost everyone has a certain vision of it. The question of how a lengthy book full of so many characters, so heavy on narrative and description rather than on dialogue would work in a play comes up often. All these concerns are immediately put to rest once Bryony J Thompson’s version unfolds on the small stage at the Rosemary Branch.
The main quality of this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is how faithful it is to the book: the original language is entirely kept and every word in the play is from the novel, with mild alterations where needed. Aside from the popular phrases exchanged between her characters, you also get to hear some of Austen’s wittier writing, which proves to be a brilliant narrative tool not only on the page but the stage too. The characters themselves speak the words of the narrator, often describing their own actions as they’re performing them: an original method that works surprisingly well and results in a fast-paced, amusing play. Ultimately, by working in this way, Thompson has managed to recreate Austen’s signature witticisms and biting commentary on the stage, masterfully highlighting the comedy value of the novel.
The play consists of only seven actors, always present on stage, quickly shifting from one character to another – with the exception of Danny Frost and Emilia Williams, who stay in the roles of Darcy and Elizabeth throughout. George Haynes swiftly moves from charming Bingley to flirty Wickham to unpleasant Mr Collins, and he does it with such an ease that it’s impossible to confuse them. By having all these bubbly characters on stage at once, a fuller picture of silent Mr Darcy is painted.
All in all, this is a very funny, well-acted play; a version of Pride and Prejudice that will not fail to satisfy any fan of the original material.
Pride and Prejudice is on at the Rosemary Branch until 4th April 2015, for further information or to book visit here.