There was a period of time in my late teens when I discovered Jane Austen. I remember my welcomingly thick Collins compendium of her works, which still sits in a box of my University books somewhere, waiting for the moment when my two girls are old enough to begin to appreciate them.
Ever since, Pride and Prejudice has been one of my favourite novels. The journey of Lizzie Bennet as she discovers her love for the distantly brooding Mr Darcy (“Until this moment, I never knew myself” – cue flutterings of the heart!) amidst the surrounding comedy of a highly-strung Mother of 5 girls and the hapless Mr Collins mesmerised and stayed with me.
Last night, I was invited to see Pride and Prejudice at the Lowry in Salford. The invitation seemed to arrive at just the right time; Pride and Prejudice has influenced so much of our culture, including the fantastic 1995 BBC TV series and the subsequent Bridget Jones series which cast the same Mr Darcy. I went to see the latest Bridget Jones film featuring Colin Firth’s Darcy just last week – so I feel I’ve had a double dose of Darcy!
The play is a Regent’s Park Theatre adaptation by Simon Reade, with a cast that includes Matthew Kelly as Mr Bennet – played brilliantly (he is so tall!). We had a few laughs at Mr Bennet’s withering comments to Felicity Montague’s Mrs Bennet.
It’s hard to top Jennifer Ehle’s Miss Bennet in the 1995 TV production. However Tafline Steen did a good job. A little more carefree than the Ehle version, the proposal scenes were nevertheless pleasingly tense, with Benjamin Dilloway’s Darcy delivering his declaration of Elizabeth’s inferiority convincingly.
He didn’t emerge from a pond with a wet shirt at any point in the show, however.
By far the most enjoyable character to watch last night was Steven Meo’s Mr Collins. He was just so funny! His silly dancing – I need to try and emulate this at the next wedding I go to, just for fun. I could have spent the entire evening watching just Mr Collins.
However, Montague’s Mrs Bennet was a close second. Clinging to the banister at one point (half way up) in an attempt to convinced the escaping Mr Bennet to force Lizzie to accept Mr Collins’ marriage proposal, she was absolutely hilarious.
I enjoyed the evening and would recommend you go and see Pride and Prejudice. It’s at The Lowry until Saturday 15th October, and further tour dates and venues are listed here (or follow @DarcyOnTour on Twitter).
The Lowry is a great venue, for both adults and children. It’s easy to get to and is an impressive building, with lots of eating and drinking places. The play was in the Lyric theatre. it’s spacious, comfortable and we had good stalls seats with a decent view. We ‘retired’ to the Circle bar in the interval for drinks which is really nice – low lighting, comfortable tables and seats and view of the theatre. I’ve also seen previous shows in the Quays Theatre, which also has a great bar adjacent to it overlooking the Quays.
We’re looking forward to our next trip to the Lowry. I’ll be looking at what’s on in the next few months and the lead up to Christmas. I may also re-read Pride and Prejudice!
Disclaimer: We were invited to watch Pride and Prejudice free of charge. All opinions are our own.