#96. In the olden days, before internet Kardashians and Brangelinas, people amused themselves speculating about their neighbors. They would judge the townsfolk’s actions, motives and prospects. Pre-reality shows, people’s antics were still exploited for the entertainment of the bored. It was just closer to home.
Lifeline Theatre presents an adaptation of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. The Bennets have five daughters. Their substantial personalities are different. Their meager dowries are the same. A driven Mrs. Bennet intends to marry at least one to a man of wealth. When the very mysterious, very handsome and very rich Mr. Darby arrives in town, Mrs. Bennet salivates over the possibility. She and her daughter Lizzy take a closer look at the new guy. They quickly learn that he is also very arrogant, very rude and very disagreeable. Mrs. Bennet discards him immediately from her targeted suitor list. Lizzy tries to move out of his hostile territory but continues to encounter him. Their meet-ups turn into harsh critiques of each other’s nature. How can love bloom with all that sh#t. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is a novel, cheeky love story.
From the first scene, I’m amazed at how funny this show is. Adapter Christina Calvit found Jane Austen’s humor and streamlined it for a contemporary audience. Calvit took a masterpiece and almost Hollywood-ized it. For people who shy away from 19th century literature, this show is a risk-less opportunity for Jane Austen exposure. For P&P buy-the-book diehards, there can be only appreciation for Calvit’s sense and sensibility in an adaptation that perfectly captures the true essences. Under the tight direction of Elize Kauzlaric, this talented cast is a lot to love. In the lead, Laura McClain (Lizzy) engages the audience in hilarious, conspiratorial narration. An animated McClain breaks the fourth wall soliciting love advice from the audience. Interacting with a refined and brooding Dennis Grimes (Mr. Darby), McClain contrasts with emotional moxie. Their pairing will have even the most closeted romantic rooting for a happily-ever-after.
With five daughters and multiple other characters, Kauzlaric stages it with a lot of personality. At one moment, daughter Kitty appears with a ribboned atrocity on her head. Her mother tells her to go change and she does…returning to the party as Caroline Bingley. It’s this clever orchestration that delights and entertains. The large chorus, dressed in elegant costumes by Bill Morey, often don a new bonnet to join the rumor mill. In scene transitions, McClain continually walks through anonymous gossipmongers. It’s a light-hearted illustration of the catty reality. As the chorus or individually, the entire cast is exceptional at being unforgettable characters. A couple absurdly amusing standouts were an overbearing Cameron Feagin (Mrs. Bennet) and an obtuse Phil Timberlake (Mr. Collins). Hilarious!
In the mood for a classic romantic comedy? Plop yourself into a Lifeline seat and open up to an old-fashion, sassy love story. You won’t be able to resist falling hard for Lifeline’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
Production photograph courtesy of Suzanne Plunkett.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood
Written by Jane Austen
Adapted by Christina Calvit
Directed by Elise Kauzlaric
Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm
Sundays at 4pm
Thru July 8th
Buy Tickets at www.lifelinetheatre.com