Have you ever felt the urge to know what goes on behind closed doors at Netherfield and Pemberley?

Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) is Isobel McArthur’s hilarious and modern take on the well-known classic. Framed as a tale told by the invisible staff of the main characters’ various estates, this play has everything the original has, and a bit more. Staying close to the story that has been told over and over again, McArthur adds modern references and social concepts that should have changed since 1813 but haven’t. I particularly enjoyed the line about how men obviously don’t like to dominate a conversation *wink wink*. Oh, and there is karaoke! So yes, one could say Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) has it all.

The all-female cast of five is a powerhouse, and feminism oozes through every minute of the show. As usual, I am impressed when character changes are done smoothly, and this cast outright nailed that.  Lucy Gray effortlessly changing from a cheeky maid to a quite awkward Charles Bingley and then to his very posh sister is a delight to see. No eye was left dry when the audience cried tears of laughter with the performance of Leah Jamieson. One minute she is in a pink tulle monstrosity that gave me ‘candyfloss Bridgerton’ vibes, the next in a very conservative Mr. Collins look with a voice that could get the Duracell Bunny to fall asleep. Dannie Harris’s Mr. Darcy is as grumpy I as expected, and I truly felt the words ‘Do you know what I hate? People.’ Her Mrs. Bennet made me cringe and laugh and cringe again. Megan Lousie Wilson portrays a very tender Jane and a not-so-tender Catherine de Bourgh which made the audience howl when she asked Elizabeth to sing a song for her beloved cousin Christopher ‘Chris’ de Burgh. Ah, yes and then there is Elizabeth. Emmy Stonelake is in-your-face-funny in everything she does. Austen-time outrageous little comments and stings, a wonderful karaoke performance, and the ability to take the piss (excuse my language) out of every moment made her take on Lizzy even more relatable.

A particular highlight was the choreography by Emily Jane Boyle, paired with the overall great co-directing of writer McArthur herself and Simon Harvey. Whoever came up with Willy the horse and everything that happens while he is on stage is a genius!

I did, however, want to see more out of the framing. In the beginning it was said the staff pulls all the strings behind the scenes; I was expecting to see a little more of just that. The individual karaoke performances were supported by the great vocals of the cast but sometimes were cut short, leaving us hanging on just one stanza. The development of both relationships between Lizzy and Darcy and Jane and Bingley fell a bit short for me. But all in all, I feel Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) deserved every bit of the standing ovations it received last night. It is sharp, on point, and witty. I utterly enjoyed it and my belly ached from laughter.  The classical Austen themes have been dusted and now shine in a very current light.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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