Reviewed by Richard Lane
Lovers of Jane Austen’s early nineteenth century novel Pride and Prejudice will love this production adapted for the stage and directed by Rob Croser . It has captured the essence of the novel in a thoroughly engaging and delightfully funny, yet elegant piece of theatre.
Cate Kite’s set design is minimalist with an open stage flanked by abstract filmy scrim screens which serve to accentuate the rural society in which the play is set. Her costumes are colourful, elegant and indicative of the Regency period.
Briefly, the plot goes something like this. The Bennet family are in straitened financial circumstances and unless Mrs Bennet can get her five daughters married off, the obnoxious Mr Collins, (played with wonderful comic odiousness by Nicholas Ely), will inherit the family property.
Mr Croser has melded his cast into a tight ensemble who work very hard throughout the entire performance, none harder than Mrs Bennet played by Kathy Fisher who rushes frantically about in her endeavours to make the nuptials occur. Ms Fisher is superbly nutty yet fiercely single minded in her efforts to have her daughters wed, an excellent performance. As the protagonist Lizzy Bennet, Peta Shannon is charming yet strongly determined at first to resist Mr Darcy played by Samuel Rogers, believable as the initially arrogant Darcy.
As eldest daughter Jane, Alicia Zorkovic is elegant and charming, while the two youngest sisters, Lydia and Kitty(Catherine Hancock and Anna Bampton) are suitably giggly awaiting their fate.
Julia Whittle is at her best as the dragon lady, Catherine de Bourgh, who plays her with nose in air and a ferocity that wilts the flowers.
Without having too much to do as Mr Bennet, David Roach as the benign head of the family, watches his family’s marriage antics from the comfort of his library.
Space prohibits further study of the large cast but suffice it to say each performer played their role extremely well , enhancing Rob Croser’s overall conception of Austen’s masterpiece as a stage presentation.