Total Rating: 
November 7, 2017
January 6, 2018
New York
New York
Primary Stages in assoc w/ Jamie deRoy
Theater Type: 
Cherry Lane Theater
Theater Address: 
38 Commerce Street
Running Time: 
2 hrs, 30 min
Kate Hammill adapting Jane Austen novel
Amanda Dehnert

Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” has taken many forms, from lush romantic movies featuring actors such as Colin Firth to absurd sci-fi versions such as “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Now in the hands of clever playwright-actress Kate Hamill, it’s become a comedy. Pride and Prejudice at Primary Stages features eight talented performers, most of whom play several parts.

With few changes, (the dropping of some minor characters) the story remains the same. Hamill plays Lizzie Bennet, one of several daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. However, since there is no male heir, the family home will go to a distant cousin, the pompous absurd twit Mr. Collins. So Mrs. Bennet is hellbent on marrying her daughters off as soon as possible. Men are seen in terms of their fortunes and little else. Courtship is seen as a game and, by the end, when the youngest Lydia is married, she gleefully announces, “I’ve won the game.”

Upon overhearing Mr. Darcy disparage her and her family and later hearing rumors about him, Lizzie dislikes him intensely. Despite feeling that their stations are markedly different and her family, particularly her garrulous mother, is inferior, Darcy falls in love with her. However, Lizzie will have nothing to do with him until truths are revealed and obstacles removed. The two find it difficult to overcome their initial impressions of one another, but love does triumph over pride in the end.

Hamill has found a way to make us still love the characters while injecting a great deal of humor in this intimate spare production. She begins with the introduction of fragments of familiar music. Then she makes good use of her small cast by having her male character portray women. One of the least significant characters in the novel is Mary, one of the younger sisters. However, here she is played by John Tufts who towers over the other girls and continually whines, demanding attention. Then with of flick of “her” hair, Tufts becomes Mr. Bingley, Jane Bennet’s wealthy suitor, who the others treat like an exuberant puppy. At one point, Darcy even tosses him a ball to fetch.

Some of the characters employ physicality to invite laughter. Jason O’Connell as Darcy, a somber, serious guy, makes us laugh when he struggles for a long while trying to remove his coat. Yet he never misses a word of his dialogue. The men are funny and get to overact. The women are fine too, especially Hamill when she becomes overly excited as Lizzie and talks nonstop.

For fans of the novel like me, Pride and Prejudice never gets old. Hamill proves that it can be revitalized and even funny. As long as Lizzie gets her Darcy, I’m happy.

Mike Bedard, Kimberly Chatterjee, Jason O'Connell, Amelia Pedlow, Chris Thorn, John Tufts, Nance Williamson.
Set: John McDermott. Lighting: Eric Southern. Costumes: Tracy Christensen.
Elyse Trevers
Date Reviewed: 
December 2017