Friday, 11 December 2009

Pride and Prejudice

The programme at Bath Theatre Royal reminds us - as if we needed reminding - that Pride and Prejudice is a perennial favourite for film-makers and fillers of the Sunday night TV schedules. So it was brave of Simon Reade to attempt Jane Austen's familiar classic for the stage in this new Bath production. Susan Hampshire plays a nice comic turn as Mrs Bennett, while Peter Ellis is credible as her long-suffering husband. The production is split into 18 quick changing scenes with members of the 17-strong cast filling in as trees and statues to provide some light relief along the way (shades here of the recent 39 Steps production). From there, the verdict must be more mixed. Newcomer Katie Lightfoot is excellent as Lizzie, Tom Mothersdale plays Mr Collins with appropriate absurdity, and Carolyn Pickles is a suitably sinister Lady Catherine de Bourgh. But other members of the cast suffer from their lack of acting experience: Nicholas Taylor's boyish Darcy inevitably draws comparisons with Colin Firth. Still, it is a credible attempt to dramatise the Austen novel, and it was well-received by the predominantly female Bath audience.

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