SFA Theatre presented new adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice” as a part of the SFA Mainstage Series. The play itself is a comedy adaption written by Kate Hamill in the vein of actor portrayal and humorous breaking of the fourth wall. Each part of the show was a delight to watch, as it turns the typically reserved novel into a comedic experience.
Before the show began, the actors ran around stage playing games and laughing with each other, giving a preview of the characters costumes. One of the actors in particular, Levi Laymance, who portrayed the matriarch of the house, Mrs. Bennet, stood out. In direct contrast to Mrs. Bennet was Mr. Bennet, played by Sedona McDonald, who is not only a good foot shorter than her counterpart, but also portrays the exact opposite personality. These two characters really stole a good part of the show, not only for the visual comedy of Mrs. Bennet crying while towering over her subdued and peace-craving husband, but as the characters were able to comedically control the stage.
Having an actor play a character of a different gender was also used in the portrayal of Mary Bennet, the third daughter of the Bennet family, who was played by Skylar Yarbrough. Mary Bennet’s character stood out in a long black wig, big black boots, fishnets and a black dress. Yarbrough also played the charming puppy- esque Mr. Charles Bingley.
The other three sisters, Elizabeth Bennet portrayed by Colby Green, Jane Bennet portrayed by Britney Day and Lydia Bennet portrayed by Cameron Wall, were a joy to watch as they supported each other through the turns a family in the early 19th Century face.
Despite there being four sisters, Mary is left out of the “group” for a majority of the show. The story does surround Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia for the most part, who were able to make light of their mother’s frantic nerves and entertain not only themselves, but the audience. At the very beginning of the show, Lydia even mimics her mom’s breakdown for the audience as her sister’s giggle in the background. These three girls were able to command the stage with their dialogue and fully encompass the spirits of Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia.
Besides the talented actors, the wardrobe department also played a large role in making the show as realistic as possible. Besides dressing Mrs. Bennet in a big, loud dress with dramatic make- up, which was a true sight to behold, they also had to make easy quick-change outfits. Many characters like McDonald, Yarbrough and most of the ensemble played more than one role. This meant a character would have to find a way to exit the stage, quickly become a whole different person and then run back on. McDonald, who played both Mr. Bennet and the girls’ friend Charlotte Lucas, would have to run off stage and put on either an overcoat and a Benjamin Franklin style wig or a tie- on dress and a wig. A similar costume change was also needed to differentiate the dapper Mr. Bingley and the gothic Mary Bennet. The ability to capture all the characters’ personalities and helped set the theme coupled with the stage design.
The stage set up was also its own character. The minimal design was made up out of movable furniture that typically was moved by the characters in-between the scenes. Not only did this keep the transitions interesting, but they were also done in character. A bad transitional sequence can often make a show feel like a bunch of little scenes just forced together, but these transitions were done in a way that helped the show feel more cohesive.
The show was performed by talented actors, and the script itself was a delight to watch being acted out. SFA’s theatre school always puts out amazing shows, and this play was no different.