Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is her most famous and well-loved novel, and I have seen countless adaptations over the years, but as it is a book that I love, I’m always up for seeing one more. This version, adapted and directed by Jane Mayfield, is performed by the Hampstead Players in the beautiful – and period-appropriate – setting of the Hampstead Parish Church in north London.
Mayfield’s adaptation has condensed the rich novel into a perfectly-paced play of just under three hours, and it is a testament to both the quality of the writing and the high standard of the performances that the time flies by. The performance takes place on a raised stage, and good use is made of the different areas, with ballroom dancing often occurring in the background as two or more characters converse downstage. Swift scene changes move the action along, with scenes taking place at the Bennets’ house, Mr Bingley’s home at Netherfield, and the other stately locations of the play.
The superb cast demonstrated their ability to deliver Austen’s witty lines with style, and this provoked a great deal of laughter and general enthusiasm in the audience. In the starring role of Elizabeth Bennet, Sarah Day managed to capture her character’s intelligent and witty personality in a strong performance, with Jon Waters displaying just the right amount of pride as Mr Darcy, haughty and quiet yet completely sincere in his love for Elizabeth. Michaela Clement-Hayes and Barney Lyons were also excellent as the good-natured lovers Jane and Bingley, while Alice Lambert delivered Mary Bennet’s moral pronouncements with just the right level of po-faced sincerity. Indeed, the vast majority of the cast were truly excellent in their roles.
Just like the book, the production was full of humour: in particular, the scene in which Mr Collins (Matthew Williams) proposes to Lizzy was very funny indeed, as were the deadpan pronouncements of Mr Bennet (Adrian Hughes). However, it was serious when it needed to be, with several moving and heartwarming moments.
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent production and I highly recommend it. It is on until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the Hampstead Players website.