Review: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Sweeps Edmonton Off its Feet at The Citadel Theatre

Pride and Prejudice plays at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre until April 2.

Previews: Rising Sun Theatre Presents WE GOT RHYTHM! at Edmonton's Nina Haggerty Centre For The Arts

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen's 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice, is one of the world's most beloved literary classics. The famous love story comes alive in The Citadel Theatre's sparkling new production, a humorous 2017 adaptation by Kate Hamill. This version brings modern humour to Pride and Prejudice's Regency-era setting and features gender-bent casting. Helmed by director, Mieko Ouchi, it stars a small but versatile cast, who, except for the two leads, all play multiple characters.

In Hamill's rendition, we meet four upper-class British sisters: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, and Lydia Bennet. Much to their overzealous mother's dismay, none of the young women have yet secured a husband. The headstrong second-oldest daughter, Elizabeth (Gianna Vacirca), is adamant that she doesn't need a man in her life. However, after repeatedly crossing paths with the mysterious and handsome Mr. Darcy (Karl Ang), Elizabeth gradually re-considers her perspective on love and marriage.

It's a delight to watch the stellar cast dance, romp, and lounge around the beautiful, tiered set. Scott Reid's design incorporates a grand central balcony flanked by staircases that wind down to the white and gold checkered main floor. Transitions between emotionally fraught domestic scenes to regal ballrooms to lush estate gardens are seamless. Gianna Vacirca shines as the bubbly Elizabeth Bennet, bringing playfulness and spunk to the iconic role. Morgan Yamada elegantly portrays the demure oldest sister, Jane, while Beth Graham is a hoot as the giggly Lydia. The sour, piano-playing middle sister, Mary, is played by Ben Elliott, who strikes comedic gold with his often-silent performance. His facial expressions earn big laughs, but it's Mary's tendency to sneak up on and startle her family that consistently leaves the audience in stitches.

At first, we don't see much of Mr. Darcy, the Bennets' enigmatic acquaintance. Unlike in the novel and screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Hamill's script often lingers on the Bennet family's hilarious antics, giving Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy minimal shared stage time. However, as the show progresses, we see the pair's mutual disdain eventually turn to attraction. Vacirca's Elizabeth and Karl Ang's Mr. Darcy effortlessly charm the audience, garnering cheers and applause during one of the play's most pivotal final scenes.

Both long-time fans and newcomers to Pride and Prejudice will find much to love about this charming production. It plays at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre until April 2.

Photo by Nanc Price for The Citadel Theatre's production of Pride and Prejudice (2023), featuring Ben Elliott, Gianna Vacirca, Karl Ang, Beth Graham and Morgan Yamada.


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