Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)

by Isobel McArthur after Jane Austen 22 Sep 2022 - 6 Oct 2022

Direct from its triumph in the West End where it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy, Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) is a unique and audacious retelling of Jane Austen’s most iconic love story. 

Men, money and microphones will be fought over in this irreverent but affectionate adaptation where the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to romance. This “smart, laugh out loud funny” (Daily Telegraph) show features a string of pop classics including Young Hearts Run Free, Will You Love Me Tomorrow and You’re So VainIt’s the 1800s.  It’s party time.  Let the ruthless matchmaking begin.


Review by Jenni Balow

The sellout audience that came to see a thoroughly modern comedy of mis-manners, closely based on Jane Austen's most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, was mopped, feather-dusted and polished by a quintet of fast-moving house servants wearing rubber gloves at the Minack this week.

They stopped short of using an over-large sink plunger on their enthusiastic supporters, but they knowingly and openly plumbed the depths of bad taste in this Gen Z interpretation of the book that has sold 20 million copies worldwide since it was published in 1813.

This stage version, Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of), presented by David Pugh, is fresh out of the West End, has won the Lawrence Olivier Best Comedy award, and has come to Cornwall to premiere its own world tour.

Writer and director Isobel McArthur also stars as Mrs Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in this irreverent adaptation. Her co-director is Simon Harvey from Truro, best-known for his many years with the Kneehigh Theatre, and as the first director out ot the blocks on the night Covid Lockdown ended, bringing David Mynne's Great Expectations to the Minack.

Isobel brings a trio of Scottish lassies to this production  -  the multi-instrumentalist Hannah Jarrett-Scott, who plays Charles Bingley with strut and swagger, despite getting his hand stuck down a tube of Pringles, Christina Gordon, playing Jane and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, magnificent in a fully feathered bonnet, and using the moment to refer to her 'nephew, Christopher de Burgh, a cue for his song, Woman In Red, and Tori Burgess, playing the insufferable Mr Collins among other roles.

The newcomer is Leah Jamieson, who made her debut at the Criterion Theatre, playing Lizzie Bennet, giving Mr Darcy a 21st century greeting with a burst of Carly Simon's, You're So Vain  -  in fact, all five sing and play a variety of instruments, while flitting between roles, with impressively fast costume changes.

Designer Ana Ines Jabares, costumier Morag Pirrie, choreographer Emily Jane Boyle, and Jos Houben, who masterminds the comedy moves, with an urgency that keeps them running between roles, play a huge role of their own, creating an exciting tempo.

The five actors revert to their Upstairs, Downstairs jobs, summoned by the servants bells that ring the scene changes, and being sharply observant of the Christmas time celebration by Mrs Bennet in particular, who swigs and scoffs Quality Street chocs, before finally taking a header, into the jumbo sized tin.

The maids entertain karaoke style in Doc Martens, and Mr Darcy is handed his mic on a silver platter. The only 'actor' who is unmoved by all this song and dance is Mr Bennet, who is delightfully represented by a wing-back chair, and with broadsheet newspaper spread out, turned away from the gaze of the audience - and speechless, of course.

The creative team also involves musical and sound supervisor Michael John McCarthy with Niamh Gaffney, production manager Blair Halliday, company manager Mark Vince, props Jamie Owens and lighting Colin Grenfell. 

This is a smart and snappy production that wins standing cheers from the audience at its end.

The show runs until Thursday October 6.