BWW Review: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at Boise Little Theater
Editor's Note: Being asked to step into a role at Stage Coach Theater this season has not allowed me the time to go see shows here in the valley. My dear friend and fellow theater performer Nichole Stull agreed to write a few reviews for me in my absence. Thank you Nichole!
Boise Little Theater travels back to the early 1800's for a telling of Jane Austen's classic novel, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE adapted for the stage by Jon Jory. The undertaking could be overwhelming with elaborate sets, props, & costumes, but Director Diana Holdridge, with an excellent production team assisting, does a terrific job of keeping things simple with just the right touches to bring the world to life. The sound, lights, and set make for an easy but effective traversing between multiple locations. Period appropriate costumes for the 21 person cast were beautifully configured by Elizabeth Greeley, assisted by Chanel Johnson.
Seeing as how the book has been previously adapted into a six hour mini-series, it is understandable the material would require some truncating for a staged production, and the narrative interjections, primarily from the Bennett daughters, does an effective job of moving the story from action point to action point. As with many plays including narration, it can become a little tedious, but Holdridge and the cast do an admirable job with quick scene changes and forward movement to offset the narration.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is set in various locations in England and as such, the actors affect British dialects. For the most part, accents were comfortable, but also occasionally difficult to interpret because of speed of speech, lack of enunciation, and/or volume.
The acting in this production was well done. Characters were distinct and consistent throughout the performance. The word play that makes PRIDE AND PREJUDICE so beloved was well-delivered with meaning and intent making the whole story engaging. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE focuses on the Bennett family, who unfortunately bears no sons and five [unmarried but grown] daughters, meaning there are no heirs to keep the family home. Mrs. Bennett, hilariously portrayed by Courtney Ransom, is desperate to get her daughters married, wealth being the primary qualification for a good husband. Her husband, Mr. Bennett, played by Ransom's real life husband, Curtis Ransom, is a calming, if sardonic, force in the whirlwind that is his wife and younger, flighty daughters.
The Bennett daughters are well cast headed by the protagonist, Elizabeth (Rebecca Gose). Older, kind sister, Jane (Trista Pruitt), stuffy younger sister, Mary (Annie Eismann), and youngest, slightly ridiculous, boy crazy sisters, Kitty (Claire Martin) and Lydia (Megan Archibeque), create a broad array of female archetypes. They are joined by friend, Charlotte Lucas (Jeni Montzka), and frenemy, Miss Bingley (Zoe Kelly); both actresses created excellent foil characters for Elizabeth. All of the actresses find the right notes to show the various positions and aspirations fit for ladies of time.
The cast of men, aka potential mates, are just as diverse. Isaac Outhet tapped into the smoldering and aloof character of Mr. Darcy and the chemistry between Outhet and Gose was strong. A notable performance by Jared Stull, who plays the sanctimonious and somewhat smarmy cousin of Mr. Bennett, heir to the Bennett home, and potential suitor, Mr. Collins, brought much needed comic relief to the story. The cast also included two other married couples, Barb Beautrow playing Lady Catherine, and a slew of other young adults to round out the cast. Each added to the production value and filled out the scenes to the benefit of the story.
This is a wonderful show to lead off the 70th Season at Boise Little Theater!
Reviewer: Nichole Stull