Tron Theatre, Glasgow
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