JOYCE MCMILLAN on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE* (*SORT OF) at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 2.7.18.
4 stars ****
THE SELF-DEPRECATING title may be necessary, to persuade reluctant audience members that they’re not facing a three-hour essay in prissy manners and Regency bonnet styles. In truth, though, there’s nothing “sort of” about Isobel McArthur brilliant new re-telling of Jane Austen’s breathtakingly frank and witty tale about financial desperation among gentlewomen without property in early 19th century England.
Raging around the stage in a punked-up version of Regency costume that switches in seconds from the simple shifts worn by the ever-present, storytelling servants, through female gowns flouncy or restrained, to the elegant frock-coats of the gentlemen suitors, McArthur’s five-strong all-female cast – directed by Paul Brotherston, and led by McArthur herself as both a nerve-wracked Mrs Bennett, and an entirely convincing Darcy – offers up a rare version that is so profoundly faithful to the detail of the story, and to its radical, questioning female spirit, that fans of the novel will find themselves howling in recognition, despite McArthur’s complete 21st century rewrite of Jane Austen’s exquisite prose.
In a cast so brilliantly at one with each other and the material, it makes no sense to talk of stars. Apart from the brilliant McArthur, Meghan Tyler is superb as the heroine Lizzie, with Hannah Jarrett-Scott, Tori Burgess and Christina Gordon all equally funny and fluent in a dazzling range of roles. And with a wild karaoke score of 20th and 21st century love anthems driving the story along, and forging ever closer links between our time and Miss Austen’s, this Pride And Prejudice delivers a summer show to remember; clever, funny, feminist, and not even shy, in the end, of a few powerful moments of true romance.
Until 14 July.