Pride & Prejudice
18th June 2017
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
It was with great excitement & also slight trepidation that I drove to Lauder with my two daughters – aged 8 & 10 – to see Chapterhouse’s al fresco version of the seminal classic of Regency literature, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Adapted for the stage by Chapterhouse’ in-house penswoman, Laura Turner, in a recent interview with The Mumble she elucidated on working with such a sacred text; ‘there’s definitely a lot of pressure working with stories that everyone knows and people feel so passionately about. I feel a responsibility to the author themselves, to reflect their work as they might have intended, and also to the audience who will be looking forward to seeing their favourite bits come to life! As with any adaptation, you inevitably have to leave things out but I hope that in doing so I still capture the overall feel and heart of the story. It’s never easy to make these decisions but the external factors of time constraints and the amount of actors I have to play with forces my hand, but I never make these cuts or changes without real consideration of whether it feels right. Hopefully it enhances the storytelling by making the production streamlined. I’d hate for an audience to get bored!’
Amidst a beautiful blast of greenery overlooking sheepfields, perched in front of the glorious Thirlestane Castle with picnic baskets & pimms, P&P is played out before us across a simple, static Georgian set. Twyx silly sisters & dashing gents, the formalities of Regency romance are bounced to & fro between Lizzie & her Darcy, all egged on to a merry nuptial conclusion by Lizzie’s gold-grabbing mother. The music is beautiful, the dancing is sweet & the overall time-travelling effect is quite authentic. I was part of a happy audience, a mix of all ages, enjoying the ideal setting – golden sun bouncing off green fields – as much as the story, whose complexities almost actively encourage one’s mind to meander up into the cyan skies.
As sounds of bleeting sheep competed with the pop of champagne corks, the High English of the actors was delivered throughout a charming & at times extremely compelling performance. The whole thing pointed to what it would have been like to have witnessed the Elizabethan court being entertained as it made its way round the stately lords of England, such as at Kenilworth in 1577. Both my daughters loved being there for separate reasons. My younger enjoyed the adventure park more, but at the half-time interval – as the raffle was rumbling away – I enquired as to my daughters’ joint enthusiasm for staying. ‘Damn right we are,’ said the eldest & raced back to her seat to continue laughing aloud at lines such as, ‘I find you endlessly appealing even against my will.’ Meanwhile, the young mothers to our our left were chirping, ‘isn’t this just the picture of civilization – sangria & strawberries at the castle,’ & I could not have been more cordial in agreement.
Reviewer : Emily Beeson Bullen