Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Pride and Prejudice

(From company website)
Deja Vu
by Jim Murchison 

First of all I must apologize to Ottawa Little Theatre for not submitting this review earlier. I dare say that my Pride got the better of me, and my prejudice to accept that I had erred allowed me to wallow for a period of some days. In the same way that there have been two productions of this Jane Austen tale this season, I have written two reviews of OLT's Pride and Prejudice. The first has been swallowed into a virtual wasteland, likely because in my fatigue I neglected to save it properly.

It is fortunate that OLT is proud enough not to be intimidated by the NAC season and suffers no prejudice in underestimating their own abilities. This production is based on Helen Jerome's Broadway production of the thirties which also inspired the first film version with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson but the sensibility is pure nineteenth Century.

Director Geoff Gruson applies a deft touch, suitable to the period right down to the set changes performed by servants who dutifully curtsy or bow to the audience in obedience at the completion of their task. The cast show their love and disdain for each other with the utmost decorum. The pious Mr Collins is played by Ian Stauffer with a pompous arrogance that makes his unwarranted confidence very funny. Kurt Shantz as Mr Bingley is the most straightforward and charming member of the aristocracy. Niamh O'Keelly is similarly charming as Jane Bennett and her unfeigned sweetness makes her a natural match for Bingley. Laura Hall on the other hand doesn't care much for anyone as Caroline Bingley, but she has a most refined way of letting you know it.

The cornerstones of the story are the Bennetts' however. George Stonyk as Mr Bennett is decidedly practical and a most witty observer of the pretentious posturing. Mrs Bennett played by Janet Uren on the other hand finds every man dreadful or wonderful in direct proportion to how close they are to proposing to one of her daughters.

Elizabeth Bennett played with a clever spark by Sara Duplancic has  an undeniable charm despite the "liability" of her intelligence. Perhaps the best performance of the night belonged to Josh Sparks as Mr Darcy who transforms from laconic snob to principled white knight fuelled by true love in a matter of two hours. Without these last two well-done performances there would be no Pride and Prejudice.

runtime: approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission
Pride and Prejudice runs until March 2nd

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