Of the versions of Jane Austen’s classic novel there are no end. But I could not resist taking in NextStop Theatre Company‘s staging this autumn. A new script, 21st century casting and a good couple spoonfuls of added modernity are added to the story we all know so well.
Look at that photo! From left to right we see Lizzy, Jane, Lydia, Charlotte Lucas, and Mary Bennett, who I hope you notice is played by a guy. There are perhaps two other men in the cast. All the actors shuffle all the roles between them, whipping off costumes and switching gender with alacrity. This is not your father’s Austen here.
Two things have to happen when you stage or film a beloved novel. You have to decide whether the production is going to be in a traditional Masterpiece Theater style, or innovative. And you have to cut, because otherwise the thing will run for six hours. Clearly the show I attended was on the innovative side. And they did cut and compress very cleverly. You don’t see Kitty Bennett there in the photo, do you? Yes, there are only four Bennett girls now ISO a mate. How many ditzy sisters does a story need, surely one will do.
Startling but not unpleasant, and the clincher is my husband, who I always drag along to these things. A computer scientist, his range of knowledge overlaps with mine hardly at all, and he has never read anything by Jane Austen. I was floored when I learned this. I knew there were such people, but to be married to one for so many years! I’ve neglected him. But after seeing this production he allowed that maybe he ought to crack open Pride & Prejudice some day!