Last Friday I was very kindly invited down to the Greenwich Theatre to watch a performance of Pride and Prejudice...with a difference.
Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Austen's most famous book is a fast favourite of mine (in fact, I last saw a production in the theatre a mere month ago!), and I love to see different versions put on of the show, whether it's on film, through a modernisation or an adaptation, or in the theatre. Friday's performance was truly a first, though...because the entire cast of the narrative was played by two actors.
All the Bennetts, the Bingleys, the Lucases, the Gardiners and the many other players in the piece were all brought to life by two actors, the incredibly talented Joannah Tincey and Nick Underwood. When I first read about the production I had a few misgivings about the enterprise, but I'm delighted to have been proved wrong, and soundly - this is fast, nimble, interesting theatre. The production enlivened a text which I could probably quote huge passages from - the angle of the two actors meant that there was always a new innovation or delight to encounter.
Joannah Tincey's adaptation is a fond and fun one, with some great choices in tone and cutting of extraneous details in a judicious and intelligent manner. The use of narration keeps things moving along at a decent clip, and despite the small cast the detail of the story was never sacrificed. Both Tincey and Underwood give superb performances, full of charm, skill and some very good comedic timing. Through various accents, tonal differentiations and cunning costume additions and subtractions a cast of dozens in portrayed beautifully by this pair. The central duo of Lizzie and Darcy were very winningly acted and had that perfect mix of romance and frisson necessary for a good P&P, but countless other characters were brilliant as well. I especially enjoyed Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, and Kitty - I won't spoil the play by suggesting which parts might be played by which party!
The direction, by Abigail Anderson, is nimble and winning, and Dora Schweitzer's design is simple but intelligent - each element of the stage is well thought out and allows for the many changes of location, character and time the action requires. The costumes are amazing and these and props various aid the actors in their changing of roles immensely.
The show is now on tour for the rest of this month and into next month (Aberdeen, you are tonight!), before returning to London. Details of the dates and locations of performances can be found here. If you get a chance to see this fabulous production, I'd really encourage you to take it - this is fast, funny, intelligent theatre!