“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!”
Retellings and new interpretations of stories are very popular right now. Fairytales and classics are all receiving the modern treatment and, so far, I’ve not liked any of them.
So I was very nervous as I went to watch my favourite book be completely upended and changed.
I needn’t have worried.
Writer (and actor) Isobel McArthur has respected Austen’s work, but given it a humorous, modern twist. Told from the perspective of the servants (sort of), it blasts its way into your hearts and minds and causes serious pain from the laughter.
Pride and Prejudice (sort of) is cleverly observed. The five actors are all extremely talented, putting comic timing and facial expressions to exceptional use. There are also little nods to the dramatised versions of the book, which are very much appreciated and enjoyed.
This is not a musical per se: McArthur has used karaoke instead of dancing to show sexual tension, flirtation and awkward moments. The song choices are perfect: ‘You’re so Vain’ is so obviously about Mr Darcy that it seems ridiculous we never thought of it before.
The set is well-designed with books everywhere and props are used to great effect; microphones appear out of nowhere and the costume changes are slick and enhance the production’s comedy.
From Charlotte mooning over Liz, to Mrs Bennet fussing, Wickham’s countenance to Mr Bennet’s strong, silent role… not to mention Caroline Bingley’s wonderfully condescending attitude and a good helping of Irn-Bru, there’s very little to fault.
It’s a raucous, rollicking ride that blends Austen’s beloved story with modern music and mirth.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes