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Five women play all the parts in this joyful version of Jane Austen’s beloved tale.



It is a lovely irony that a book that is all about how to catch your man and keep him can be performed so excellently on stage without a single one.

This version of Pride and Prejudice at Cambridge Arts Theatre includes Mr Bennet – whose inaction drove his wife to distraction – as just a newspaper appearing above the back of a leather armchair.

Five women play all the parts in this joyful version of Jane Austen’s beloved tale.

There are some wonderful parodies of men’s demeanour, voices, and mannerisms. Men are sent up wonderfully.

The play does itself an injustice by calling itself Pride and Prejudice (sort of). It is in fact a loving tribute.

This show is full of fun.

It is a laugh from start to finish but it is also a great vehicle to show the acting range of its five stars and their talent as musicians – and it includes all the salient parts of the story.

We see Jane set off on horseback to Netherfield Park and arrive drenched.

We see Lizzy turn down a proposal from the slimy Mr Collins, then Darcy insulting Elizabeth with his begrudged proposal.

Here is Lydia’s elopement, Wickham’s deception when he meets Lizzy at a ball, Lizzy’s visit to the newly married Charlotte and Mr Collins, her visit to Pemberley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s attempt to bully Lizzy and everything coming right in the end.

The five each play multiple roles and various instruments. All of them are chameleons on stage. They have great comic timing.

Three of the cast are graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and it shows when they treat the audience to their delightful singing voices.

Yes, it is a gentle send up – but the novel is honoured, and the singing is seriously good – as are the performances. We believe them all.

The play does itself an injustice by calling itself Pride and Prejudice (sort of). It is in fact a loving tribute. PHOTO: Matt Crockett

Hannah Jarrett-Scott is a real treat playing both Binghams, Charles and Caroline, changing her Scottish accent for that of an upper class, English toff as a nice-but-dim Charles Bingley with gorgeously gauche mannerisms and also playing his spiteful sister Caroline – as well as the meek best friend of Lizzy Bennet, Charlotte Lucas.

She also sings – rather beautifully and plays the piano and trumpet.

Tori Burgess plays the foolish sister Lydia (the one who runs off with the dastardly Wickham) the appalling Mr Collins, the kind Mrs Gardiner, and the bespectacled bookish Mary.

Equally agile – and extremely quick of character and costume change is Christina Gordon who plays the demure Jane, the cad Wickham, the haughty Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the piano and the harp.

Also most impressive is Isobel McArthur who wrote this witty play as well as co-directing and playing an earthy northern Mrs Bennet and a deep voiced and dignified Mr Darcy.

The show opens with the five playing servants (as well as a piano and an accordion).

Servants can influence what happens they tell us. “A letter delivered a bit slower, or a drink poured a bit faster”. They slip back into servant roles throughout the play, gliding along the action, and return to these roles at the end.

Meanwhile, they have sung joyful numbers including Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, You are so Vain (for Mr Darcy) and At Last My Love Has Come Along.

Directed by Isobel McArthur and Simon Harvey with a light and cheerful set by Ana Ines Jabares-Pita, this is a show to lift the spirits.

The audience at Cambridge Arts Theatre was on its feet in delight at the end.

A good night at the theatre was universally acknowledged.






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