BY BECKY LANCASHIRE
On November 8th, the Richard Darbourne LTD company performed Joannah Tincey’s skilful adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Tincey, fascinated with Austen’s characters, wanted the chance to “inhabit them all”, therefore she decided to encapsulate all of the characters through just two actors. I couldn’t help but feel this was indeed a huge challenge as I took my seat in the LPAC theatre, ready for a night of entertainment.
I imagine one of the most challenging aspects of this type of performance is the ability to alter from one character to another, particularly considering how different each of Austen’s characters are, however Joannah Tincey and Nick Underwood did not disappoint.
The clever use of voice and body language meant the audience were always aware of which character they were faced with without the need for costume changes. Props were however used to differentiate between characters – these included glasses, a hat, a handkerchief, a fan and more. The precise direction of Abigail Anderson’s meant that the transitions between character changes were smooth and barely noticeable.
The technique ‘breaking the fourth wall’ was used, as actors spoke directly to the audience as a means of narration. This made sure that the depth and understanding we get from reading the novel was not lost when brought to the stage.
Something that I felt the performance as a whole employed incredibly well was the use of subtlety.
The set, designed by Dora Schweitzer, was a simple collection of beams and some furniture that was moved around the stage by the actors to change scenes. Simon Wilkinson (Lighting Designer) ensured that the lighting fitted perfectly with the mood and never distracted from the content. The mood was also displayed through the sound as natural noises such as birds tweeting and horses galloping could be heard.
The costumes, also designed by Dora Schweitzer, featured trousers and boots being worn by both actors. Underwood then had a coat over the top and for Tincey a long dress. The trousers were then revealed or hidden depending on which gender the actor was portraying.
The use of letters I felt was important, as it reflected the epistolary novel format of Pride and Prejudice. One actor would read the letter aloud while the other reacted to its content.
Overall, I felt that the adaptation was true to the original work, while creating an entirely new and unique way of telling Austen’s story. Perfectly cast, perfectly executed and a perfect way to mark this wonderful piece in our minds for a long time. Congratulations Richard Darbourne LTD!