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Theatre Review: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is wildly entertaining

Lisa Much Lisa Much Theatre Review: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is wildly entertainingMichelle G. Schroeder, Acacia Duncan, Drew Eberly, and Kim Garrison Hopcraft in Available Light Theatre's production of "Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice." Photo by Matt Slaybaugh.
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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Jane Austen’s famed novel, Pride and Prejudice, and so starts the romantic deconstruction penned by Daniel Elihu Kramer and performed by Available Light Theatre that plays for one weekend only.

Michelle G. Schroeder, Acacia Duncan, Drew Eberly, and Kim Garrison Hopcraft in Available Light Theatre's production of "Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice." Photo by Matt Slaybaugh.

Presented by Robin and Peter Hersha, this show remounts the same production from two years ago. I did not receive the opportunity to see the original production of Pride and Prejudice in 2010. When faced with the option of witnessing the performance on Thursday night, my disinterest weighed in heavily, but ultimately I decided to go. Admittedly, I never liked Jane Austen. Never forced to read it in high school and easily bored by movies based on her work, I never bothered to read it for fun. I even tried listening to a recording of Pride and Prejudice in my car, but I dozed far too often to continue down that road. Needless to say, I was less than enthused to see Available Light’s production.

Oh, was I wrong! Pride and Prejudice provides over two hours of solid entertainment, while educating me about a piece of literature that I probably should know about. The show offers countless, solid laughs as the five extraordinarily talented actors reenact the novel, while frequently breaking the forth wall to clarify confusing language, provide contemporary insight, crack jokes, and muse over the plot. Just when I found my mind wandering a bit because of the focus on the text, an actor would question a motive. The audience laughed, and the story drew me back in.

Michelle Schroeder, Acacia Duncan, and Kim Garrison Hopcraft in Available Light Theatre's "Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice." Photo by Matt Slaybaugh.

Each performer captured my attention, from their grandiose actions to the subtleties of the countless characters most played, particularly Michelle G. Schroeder as Jane Bennet among others. The play received excellent devotion though interesting and insightful writing by Kramer, and was expertly crafted by director Eleni Papaleonardos. Papaleonardos’s vast use of the space and keen understanding for comedy truly intensify the show. Dave Wallingford’s beautiful sounds mingle well throughout the show, and Michelle Whited’s costumes ground people in the world of Austen as the audience studies it.

In short, Pride and Prejudice is one of the best shows I have seen all year—in any city. If you missed your opportunity to see this show in months or years prior, go this weekend! If you missed (accidentally or deliberately) your “opportunity” to read Pride and Prejudice in your past, go see the play this weekend! It is wildly entertaining, not costly, and available for the weekend only. Grab a date and just go.

Pride and Prejudice plays only three more days, until Dec. 16, at Studio One in the Vern Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street. Fri. and Sat. at 8 pm; Sun. at 2 pm. Pay what you can.

More information can be found online at www.avltheatre.com.

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