Pride and Prejudice at Nottingham Playhouse
This brand new comic adaptation by a stand-up comedian Sara Pascoe with an original score from Emmy the Great and directed by Susannah Tresilian (Director of Posh in 2015) didn’t disappoint. We went to see it for ourselves this week so continue reading if you want to find out what we thought about it.
Genevieve – Sara Pascoe isn’t a name that you would expect to find alongside the classic novel title, Pride and Prejudice, so when I heard of her new adaptation of the Jane Austen story, I was already intrigued. I expected that Sara Pascoe, being known for her comedic skills, writing and experience as an actress, would breathe fresh air into the 19th Century romance and I was not disappointed. A full house created quite the buzz as we settled down for the start of the play. I had reviewed the programme and gladly seen some recognisable faces, such as Kerry Peers, amongst names I was unfamiliar with. My expectations were not thwarted as the play flowed into the story of the Bennet family and their daughters need to find a wealthy suitor to marry.
Knowing the Pride and Prejudice classic well, I enjoyed that the essentials of the story had not been altered, but that the already comedic value was brought to life and lit up. This romantic novel is funny. Jane Austen is funny. Sara Pascoe is hilarious. This element brought this tale to life, shooting it forward 2 centuries without any fear of it not being relevant in today’s world. This classic love story, is still a story that many women, and men, can relate to today. The humour and wit of the writing shone through and was delivered superbly by the cast. The set was the perfect scene setter, with the use of additional props providing amusement for all.
Sara Pascoe adapted this well known novel to become a laugh out loud story, whilst retaining those tender moments for the romantics in the crowd. The original score by Emmy the Great mirrored this mash up of old and new, whilst the cast, directed by Susannah Tresilian, executed a thoroughly enjoyable viewing for all. No matter if the classic Pride and Prejudice is for you or not, I should expect that this well delivered adaptation will have you giggling right to the end, leaving the theatre with a fresh understanding, or keen reminder, that Jane Austen was a very funny lady.
Lydia – I’ve always loved Sara Pascoe on Mock the Week and was so excited to see that she had adapted one of English literature’s all-time celebrated novels for the stage. I didn’t know what to expect from Pascoe’s version so was really looking forward to seeing how the original story could be rewritten as a stage comedy.
The play is filled with slapstick moments from the start. Pascoe did a great job reimagining comedic characters from Austen’s novel – like Mary Bennet, and dialling them up to the extreme versions of their book selves. Mary, who is played by Rachel Partington, is absolutely hilarious in the role, coming out with Monty Python-esque gags even when other characters are talking in a serious tone.
The play holds Austen’s story in the light of modern day values but does it in a really humorous way by poking fun at traditional attitudes from the time. This is also combined with past and present scenes of a modern-day schoolroom, a film producer’s studio and a drama workshop where the actors themselves talk through and analyse their own characters together, and who constantly crack everyday jokes made it all the funnier by placing them in a historical context. One of my favourite moments was where the pair of film producers watching Lizzie Bennet and Caroline Bingley ‘taking a turn’ around the room point out the obvious, ‘who goes on a walk in a room anyway?!’. The play was a fantastic retelling of Austen’s novel from start to finish, and was hugely entertaining – while true to Austen’s comedy and language where possible, it has a modern twist that anyone who loves Austen’s fiction would enjoy.