‘Pride and Prejudice’ transports viewers into Austen’s world

Austin Busch and Becca Ehlers

As much as we love the quirky array of productions Northwestern has to offer, sometimes only a classic will do. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” directed by Jessica Thebus, explores class conflict, the dangers of preconceptions and the unpredictability of love. As the Theatre and Interpretation Center’s second mainstage production of the season, “Pride and Prejudice” provides a truly excellent interpretation of this romance, adding new life to the story while staying true to its core beauty.

The pre-show staging uses a briefly contemporary setting but quickly transforms into 19th century England, giving the audience the sense that they have fallen into the book. The cast keeps a well-known story engaging by filling even the smallest moments with energy, genuine emotion and fantastic stage presence. The leads were wonderful, and Elizabeth (played by Madeline Weinstein) and Mr. Darcy (played by Michael Silberblatt) showed very good on-stage chemistry. However, one of the most exciting parts of the show was the way supporting characters developed their roles; no member of the cast was simply “there.”

Although there have been some very aesthetically beautiful productions this quarter, “Pride and Prejudice” blew them all away. The pre-Victorian costumes are among the most elegant and beautiful I’ve seen all season. A water-color backdrop and simple configurations of chairs, coupled with overhead draperies printed with Austen’s text, allow the audience to fill in the blanks with their own ideas of what the show should look like. To build a sense of setting, members of the cast carry intricate pop-up book creations across the stage to show each new destination. You must see it for yourself.

To be perfectly honest, it’s difficult to pinpoint anything in the production that could have been improved upon or altered. At times, some of the characters slipped into caricatures, noticeable mainly because they were so strong otherwise.

“Pride and Prejudice” is not to be missed. If you’ve read the book, see the show. Seeing the text brought to life on stage shows the intricacies of the story that may have been missed in reading. Overall, it’s a beautiful production that does justice to a beautiful story. You’ll laugh, and, if you’re even slightly of the sensitive persuasion, you’ll likely cry as well. However, while we strongly recommend it, we cannot take responsibility for any post-show depression over the fact that life is not a Jane Austen novel.

Austin Busch and Becca Ehlers