Skip to main content

Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of)


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Five stars

When the five ladies in grey start cleaning up the set of Blood of the Young theatre company’s take on Jane Austen’s most emancipated of rom-coms, the show’s all-female ensemble are giving a cheeky nod to just how much they’re dusting down one of the most beloved novels of all time. As they  rip into Isobel McArthur’s faithful but audaciously up-to-the-minute reimagining of  Jane Austen’s everyday yarn of love and money, opening with a girl band take on an Elvis Costello song  in a karaoke-friendly rendering by director Paul Brotherston sets the show’s magnificently irreverent tone from the off.

In McArthur’s version, the ongoing merry dance between the five Bennett sisters and their assorted suitors is seen from below stairs, as the servants put on posh frocks and dress coats to play-act an entire story-book world, having a ball as they go. At the heart of this is wilful Elizabeth’s stop-start dalliance with stroppy Mr Darcy, brought to full sparring life by a wonderfully disdainful Meghan Taylor as Elizabeth and McArthur herself as a too-cool-for-school Darcy. With McArthur doubling up as the terminally disappointed Mrs Bennett, he rest of the extended clan are played with gleeful comedic abandon by Christina Gordon, Hannah Jarrett-Scott and Tori Burgess.

Beyond the dressing-up-box quick changes, the story’s serious intent regarding class, privilege and the desperate social whirl of little England underpins every flirtation and rejection. In a brilliantly telling image of useless parenting, Mr Bennett is personified only by a simple armchair with its back to the audience.

As the Bennett sisters start doing it for themselves via a reclaiming of old-school disco classics on Ana Ines Jabares-Pita’s stair-case set that frames the action pin-pointed by Simon Hayes’ playful lighting, the song and dance they make becomes an unfettered joy from start to finish.

The Herald, July 2nd 2018

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…

This House

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Five years is a long time in politics just as it is in the theatre. When James Graham’s epic reimagining of one of the most pivotal eras in late twentieth century British democracy first appeared in 2012, its depiction of the aftermath of the 1974 hung parliament in Westminster chimed with a then current coalition. Half a decade and a couple of referendums on, Graham’s dramatic whizz through to 1979’s successful vote of no confidence in the Labour government now looks like a warning.
Jeremy Herrin and Jonathan O’Boyle’s touring revival of a production first seen at the National Theatre begins with both sides of the House marching en masse in their grey suits and twin-sets down the aisles of the auditorium before cutting a well-choreographed rug in formation. As the Labour and Tory whips mark out their territory away from the chamber, this proves to be one of the few moments of unity in a breathless yarn that picks at the old-school gentleman’s agree…