Thursday, December 8, 2016

Play Review: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

Image found here.
Like many women, I love the Jane Austen story of Pride and Prejudice. I grew up watching the A&E version (i.e. the best version), read the book in high school, and even sat through the Keira Knightley version (ew). So when I saw that the play Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley was playing at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, I knew I had to get tickets!

This play did not disappoint. It was everything you would have wanted. The play takes place in the drawing room at Pemberley, and Elizabeth is very excited about having a Christmas tree in her new home, even though it's a German holiday tradition. The rest of the family is visiting, from the lovely eldest sister Jane and her happy-go-lucky husband Bingley, to the younger, exasperating sister Lydia, to the studious middle sister Mary, the protagonist of the play. Mary is glad to be with her sisters, but has been feeling lonely recently; she feels trapped in her role as the unwed daughter who is destined to remain unmarried and take care of her elderly parents. But Darcy's cousin, Arthur de Bourgh, comes to visit for the holiday, and he and Mary instantly hit it off, talking about maps and books and their mutual wish to explore the world. A wrench is put into their budding friendship when Lydia tries to flirt with Arthur, and THEN Anne de Bourgh (another of Darcy's cousins) shows up claiming that she's already engaged to Arthur! Conflict ensues, misunderstandings multiply, but in the end, all is right, and you get the happy, romantic ending that you always expect from one of Austen's stories.

This play was so well done! The set was beautiful, as were the costumes. But my favorite part was that the play assumes you know the story of Pride and Prejudice. There's no background, no time wasted explaining who's who and what's going on. They throw you right in, expecting you to understand why no one seems too sad about Catherine de Bourgh's death or knowing why Mary insists that her mother talks all the time (though Mrs. Bennett is not in the play at all). I loved how the actors completely embodied their characters, just slipping in right where the book or film left off. Brandon McCoy's Bingley is jovial and content as always; Miranda Rizzolo as Lydia is just as annoying as you remember; Erin Weaver and Katie deBuys as Elizabeth and Jane are as lovely as ever. But we also get to know Mary (played by Katie Kleiger) much better. Yes, she is always reading or playing the piano, but she is also passionate and curious about the world, and has deeper feelings regarding relationships (and lack there of) than any of us ever knew.

This performance was perfection. I laughed, I cried; it has everything! I certainly recommend it, and tickets are on sale now! (or you can find some of Goldstar, too)

Here's another review if you'd like to check that out!

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