Zaid Al-Nouman and Aris Stovall
Photo by Andy Shaw
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife.” The opening first line in Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice” rings more true for her characters than the Bennets' dressing-bell. Adapted from the novel in 1936, it was initially well received in London, despite having to make multiple cuts for the sake of time.
Revolving around the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet and her doting mother urging her to find a husband, Elizabeth meets the prideful Mr. Darcy, a friend of their neighbor, Mr. Bingley. They immediately show a distaste for each other at the Bennet's ball, until Mr. Darcy proclaims his admiration for her to Mr. Bingley's sister, Caroline. Immediately following, Reverend Collins, a cousin of Mr. Bennet, declares that he will ask Elizabeth for her hand in marriage. Mr. Darcy suppresses his feelings and leaves to find Mr. Bingley, who had since fallen in love with Elizabeth's beautiful older sister, Jane. Mr. Darcy and Caroline convince Mr. Bingley that his feelings towards Jane are not reciprocated. Mr. Bingley leaves for London, as Jane anxiously awaits a letter from him. Jane decides to go to London herself to find the Bingley's, where she bumps into Caroline, who tells her that Mr. Bingley had since found a fiancee. Jane returns home, distraught by the news. Meanwhile, Mr. Collins, still staying with the Bennet's, is rejected by Elizabeth. Mr. Darcy, after getting word of this, makes his move on Elizabeth, only to be rejected as well; Elizabeth tells him that, because of what he told Mr. Bingley, Jane couldn't marry her true love.
Played by Alex Yee, Mr. Darcy was portrayed phenomenally, especially in the second act. Becoming a much more endearing character, he captured the audience's hearts and minds with his polished ideals and his proclamations of love to Elizabeth; played by Aris Stovall, she twists Elizabeth into the endearing, yet slightly condescending young woman that she is. Annie Silva's portrayal of the charismatic Mrs. Bennet relied on motherly instinct and energetic physical comedy, which played out spectacularly in the long run. Playing off of her humor, Mr. Bennet, played by Zaid Al-Nouman, bounced back and forth between comedic aggravation and commentary of his family's hi-jinks.
Along with the elaborate, rotating set, special effects were used to make moving projections in the windows of each scene, adding more dimension to the background. The string quartet in the ballroom scene also made the story feel more alive, while not overpowering on the actor's voices, who projected their voices well. The hand-made, period-appropriate costumes and expertly-styled wigs showed the dedication the stage crew had to the show. The publicity team packed the house with their clever methods of advertising in their school, as well as in their community.
Austen's subtle commentary of the titular 1800's England makes “Pride and Prejudice” notable, even today. Her characters set the boundaries for many archetypes, exploring the dilemmas of love, pride, and wealth. Both as a novel and play, it remains relevant for every tomorrow there'll ever be.