BWW Reviews: STC Brings Austen's PRIDE & PREJUDICE to Life

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every theatergoer is in want of a great show, and that every Jane Austen fan is in want of yet another way to enjoy her favorite love story. Austen's theatrical dialogue has inspired fan fiction novels, film adaptations, musicals, and now Sacramento Theatre Company's two-act play of Pride and Prejudice, fantastically written by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan to allow characters and scenes overlap in front of a lovely common room with gorgeous wooden floors.

With five daughters and no sons, Mrs. Bennet is anxious to see her children wed to wealthy suitors. Naturally, she has the newly arrived Mr. Bingley and friend Mr. Darcy in her sights. Sweet Jane, her eldest, almost instantly captures Bingley's attentions, but Elizabeth Bennet clashes with the proud Darcy and circumstances conspire to keep the two couples apart. All of Austen's best ironies and amusing characters are present in the romance.

Squeezing the full Pride and Prejudice novel into a two-and-a-half hour play affects the pace of the play, though. It works well the majority of the time, but keeps the chemistry between characters limited. Brittni Barger has Elizabeth's quick wit perfected, but her high pitched voice and speedy replies make her version of the classic character challenging to adapt to and sometimes difficult to understand. Although, Barger's vocal inflections certainly make her memorable - perhaps a bit too noticeable with her frilly dress and hair next to a plain Jane Bennet (the pleasant and sensible Rebecca Scott).

The rest of the cast jumps right out of Austen's original handwriting. Matt Surges is "just what a young man ought to be" with good humor and a lively personality that makes Bingley the happiest and best man in the world. Ryan Snyder tempts the ladies of the audience with his handsome looks and superior manner. Jamie Jones' ridiculously silly and amusingly ignorant Mrs. Bennet demands attention whenever on stage, while Matt K. Miller delights in vexing her nerves as the comical Mr. Bennet. John Lamp gives the Bennets' cousin Mr. Collins a diversion all his own, perhaps the most memorable actor to ever play the character. And Brent Bianchini plays a charming and deceptive Mr. Wickham.

Most Austen fans will never tire of seeing these characters recreated. Sacramento Theatre Company's season opener production of Pride and Prejudice creates a lovely atmosphere celebrating what so many people hold close to their hearts.

Sacramento Theatre Company
Through October 27


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From This Author Harmony Wheeler