Although this post is shamefully overdue, and the events I wish to relate arte not as fresh as daisies in my mind, I would still like to tell you of the charming little play we janeites three went to see the other week.
The production was Pride and Prejudice, by the Chapter House theatre Company, and although it was very low budget with a limiting number of actors (meaning Kitty was non-existent) and a tiny set of just a few chairs and two windows, we all enjoyed it immensely. We three, you see, are also rather low budget ourselves. Not all of us have ten thousand a year.
I won’t bother with a review- everyone knows what P&P is about- but there were other things going on that we noticed.
Instead of trying to disguise the many set changes they had to do with their tiny array of props, they played it up, and had a disgruntled footman with a skew-whiff wig (who also played Wickham, incidentally) come on stage and cantankerously heave and kick furniture round the stage like it was the bane of his life. That got a couple of laughs because he was just so miserable. Who doesn’t like a miserable footman?
It wasn’t the actual funny parts of the play that got us giggling however, although there were a few instances where Miss Wareham nearly wet herself because Mr Darcy was unashamedly eyeing up one Miss Elizabeth Bennet. But, once I get the giggles, I can’t stop, which meant that right from curtain up, I was shaking uncontrollably and attracting glares of contempt from fellow janeites.
Why? Because the second Mr Darcy first appeared onstage at the Netherfield Ball, a very funny, very loud and very Northern woman on the top shelf ‘murmured’ ‘he’s no Colin Firth is he?‘
Mr Darcy clearly heard her. I’m sure it took some guts to carry on after everyone laughed more at a wisecrack from the audience than at his attempts to be comedically surly.
Secondly, as soon as I managed to quash those giggles, I was attacked by anther wave of mirth when some random weirdo behind us kept bizarrely moaning! Just going MMMMMmmmmmMMMmmm at odd intervals. I could not fathom why; it wasn’t a moan of pain or of joy, just like the lowing of cattle or perhaps the high whine of a Dyson zipping round a carpet. Weird.
Anyway, we couldn’t stop laughing at this, and when the interval blessedly came so we could discuss it whilst raiding our ‘I Heart Mr darcy’ bags fior clandestine snacks, I made an arse (pardon me Jane, would you rather I said fool?) of myself.
‘Why was that random freak in front of us moaningall the time? It was bliddy creepy.’
Miss Wareham’s eyes widened and she shook her head frantically. ‘Not in front of us.’she hissed, head nodding towards the empty row. ‘Behind.’
I turned hesitantly round and was glowered at by an odd man who was noisily slurping some ice cream.
He supplied us with more moans and noisy eating in Act 2, just to spite me I think.
Apart from the special effects the audience supplied, the play was ordinary but amusing- it stayed true to the book for the most part but missed out my absolute favourite line! (Arte the shades of pemberley to be thus polluted?) Gutted.
The only bit we found really disconcerting was the very end- the double wedding. Now this could have been done a la BBC, where we just see them leaving the church with music etc bla bla happy ending- scary frozen kiss BUT, although they decided to keep in that vein, they supplied the music themselves.
A strange gregorian chant emanated from the characters making us slightly uncomfortable, like we were eavesdropping on someone’s dream or awkward role-play.
Anywho, twas a fun evening out at the theatre, making us feel very cultured indeed.
If The Chapterhouse Theatre Company visit again, perhaps reprising Sense & Sensibility, we would be happy to see it!
So, whilst Fanny Price looks on in horror, get involved in the theatricals and keep an eye out for Jane on the stage near you. We’d love to hear about different plays and adaptations.