Pride & Prejudice *(*sort of) at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Six the Musical may be taking the theatre world by storm, but it now has strong opposition from six actresses who are currently setting the Lyceum alight with a brash, bold, vibrant, hilarious feast of fun, based on Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice.

If Austen had been alive today she couldn’t be anything but impressed by Isobel McArthur’s reworking of the story of Mrs Bennett and her attempts to marry off her daughters.

McArthur, a young Scot who last graced the Lyceum stage as the stoic Wendy in Wendy and Peter Pan over Christmas 2018, describes the production as ‘a rom-com with karaoke – a big, daft night out’, and it certainly hit the sport for the opening night’s audience who gave it a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation.

The Bennetts’ tale is told in part by the servants who, they say, appear in the book although there is no love interest for them – an oversight, they add, by Miss Austen!

They have been doing housework since 1796, but their dialogue and behavior, and that of the Bennetts, is bang up-to-date.

It is the Bennetts who come to the fore, however – apart from Mr Bennett, who is represented by a large newspaper and an armchair!

McArthur features strongly in this, a co-production with the Lyceum, Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, and The National Theatre of Scotland’s company-in-residence Blood of the Young, whose artistic director Paul Brotherston directs this pacey piece. She plays a wonderfully frenzied Mrs Bennett, who hits the Bailey’s Cream and Quality Street, in stark contrast to her studied Mr Darcy, a performance so controlled with a stare so still it is mesmerizing.

Christina Gordon also proves her versatility in completely different roles – as the sweet, biddable Jane Bennett, quite unlike the domineering Lady Catherine de Burgh (Chris de Burgh is her nephew, don’t you know, as Lizzy Bennett belts out Lady in Red!).

Hannah Jarrett-Scott also has chameleon-type qualities, changing in the wink of an eye from Charlotte Bennett to the snobbish Miss Bingley as well as her endearing Hooray Henry-type Mr Bingley.

But Meghan Tyler, as the wayward Lizzy, is the force to be reckoned with. Swigging vodka or stuffing her face with whatever food is on offer, she really makes the most of her joyous, playful role and, as such, is captivating.

Together with Tori Burgess and Felixe Forde, and the added talents of the company as singers as well as instrumentalists, Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) will make sure you have a ball!
Image: Mihaela Bodlovic

Pride & Prejudice *(*sort of) at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh until Feb 15.
Box Office: 0131 248 4848
lyceum.org.uk
It will then continue touring:
Feb 25-29: Leeds Playhouse
Mar 10-14: Oxford Playhouse
Mar 17-28: NST City, Southampton
Apr 7-11: Bristol Old Vic