Sonali Nandi reviews

Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone is in some way familiar with the story of Pride and Prejudice. Whether you've seen the film, the TV series, or actually read the book, you definitely will not have seen it like this before.

Be you a Jane Austen enthusiast, or completely adverse to her novels, Isobel McArthur's retelling of this age-old classic is definitely for everybody. With a female-only cast of just six actors, plus an armchair for the role of Mr Bennet, they are guaranteed to have you in fits of laughter.

In McArthur's adaptation, this famous love story is told, not by the characters themselves, but rather they're played by the servants and household staff that Austen neglects to mention in her stories. To help them tell the story the cast frequently burst into song in order to express the repressed emotions of Austen's characters. These were excellently chosen, but most memorable was Lizzie Bennet's (Meghan Tyler) rendition of Carly Simon's You're So Vain addressed to none other than Mr Darcy (Isobel McArthur). Who knew a song released over 150 years later could be so fitting!

Whilst Austen’s characters wittily avoid saying what they mean, McArthur’s are quite the opposite. Seeing the Bennet girls swearing is almost surreal, in that the uptight world of Austen is almost the antithesis of any vulgar language, and I don’t think I’m the only one to feel this way, for every F word brought forth a smattering of giggles from the audience.

The cast were met with a thoroughly well-deserved standing ovation at the end, and I honestly wish I could watch it again. Funny, feminist and full of sass – this is definitely Jane Austen reimagined for a modern-day audience.

Pride and Prejudice runs at the Lyceum Theatre until 15 February 2020.